Hamlin ruing what might have been in Texas

Denny Hamlin would like to have the final laps at Texas Motor Speedway to do over again so he could avoid crashing his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

Hamlin was battling Chase Elliott for the race lead and the win Sunday when he got loose and spun in Turn 4. The two had lined up on the front row for the restart with two laps to go, Hamlin fighting Elliott from the outside through Turns 1 and 2 and down the backstretch. Going into Turns 3 and 4, however, Hamlin’s charge began to fade, and as the Hendrick Motorsports driver started to complete the pass, Hamlin spun.

“I’m so frustrated because every single week we’re, like, going to win,” Hamlin said when reviewing the race on Actions Detrimental. “We’re so fast every single week; I think we’ve led every race this season and not like (expletive) led – happened under caution or whatever. We’re leading laps legitimate. We drive up there and we lead and we’re contending.


“So, this is a really, really fun year for me so far because every week I know I’m one of the top three guys on speed. But damn, two weeks in a row of not getting the finish we deserved, and this one’s on me for sure. And in hindsight, yeah, I should have (taken) second. But damn. I want to win. The extra five bonus points was just worth it to me. An extra sticker on the side of the car is worth it to me. Getting (win) No. 54 is worth it to me to take that chance.”

The crash left Hamlin with a 30th-place finish at Texas after leading 37 laps. Had he finished second, Hamlin possibly would have taken the Cup Series championship point lead. He finished 11th a week prior at Martinsville Speedway after leading 66 laps.

Through nine races, Hamlin, who has led a lap in every race, has been out front for 395 laps. He is third in the point standings with two victories, two stage wins and 76 stage points (second-most in the series). Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing have won eight of nine Cup Series races.

“I saw this wrecking coming five minutes before it happened,” Hamlin said. “That’s my job as a driver, right? To think of all the scenarios and what it’s going to take to win the race. And I’m thinking my first job is I need to get a good restart and be beside him in Turn 1 and 2. Second job, I need to be totally beside him entering Turn 3. So, we need to be nose to nose. If I’m behind him, he’s going to wash up and then I’m in a bad spot.

“So, I thought about all the scenarios and I thought about, well, what happens if I’m not ahead? I said, you know what, I’m just going to trust it, I’m going to sack up here and I’m going to try to run higher than I did all day. I’m going to try it. [Tyler] Reddick was making it work; he hauled ass. At that point in the race, he was running way up there. So, I’m like, maybe it’s possible. I’m going to try it. But I nearly busted my ass a few times and so I just thought, do I race conservatively here or do I do everything I can to get this win? Just knowing that wins are hard to come by, generally speaking, I said I’m just going to do whatever it took and I was willing to deal with the consequences.

“But I can tell you, once the consequences came, I had second thoughts.”

Story originally appeared on Racer