“Two More Laps” – Denny Hamlin Confident He Could Have Caught Martin Truex Jr at Richmond

Published 09/13/2021, 2:36 AM EDT
Feb 21, 2021; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


Earlier this weekend, Martin Truex Jr triumphed at the Richmond Raceway. He led a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2 ahead of Denny Hamlin, who booked his Playoff berth last weekend. Hamlin later confessed that he had the pace to catch and pass his teammate, but ran out of time.

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Speaking after the race, he said, “I heard him say, ‘just try to keep him honest’. Which told me that I wasn’t going to get there. I just pushed as hard as I could and I got within shouting distance. I just needed two more laps to really get on his bumper and change it up.”

Denny Hamlin will be relaxed in the coming race weekend

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With two races done and dusted in the Playoffs, three Playoff slots are already locked in. They belong to Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr, and Kyle Larson. Hamlin and Truex Jr qualified on the back of their Darlington and Richmond wins. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson’s sixth place at Richmond was enough to secure his own qualification berth.

May 9, 2021; Darlington, South Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin looks on prior to the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hamlin continued, “Our pit stops were a little slow there and we lost about two or three seconds, maybe four on pit road on those two stops, and about a second and a half behind. We were coming, just we got off track with our car right there in the middle stages of the race, but overall Chris (Gabehart) and the team made great adjustments there at the end on the FedEx Camry, just needed a couple more laps, that’s all.”

This leaves nine more slots up for grabs ahead of the coming weekend’s race. In other words, the battle for those slots will be intense. On the other end of the scale, Hamlin, Truex Jr, and Larson have nothing to lose and can take it easy at the next race. However, the remaining 13 drivers will have to duke it out at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Dhruv George

12020 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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