Hamlin's Title Hopes End

Denny Hamlin

"I got into him and he chose to retaliate and so I’m in the garage and that’s the way it is." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Denny Hamlin led a race-high 193 laps, but saw his chances to run for this year’s championship come to an end on lap 275 in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Hamlin had taken over the last Championship 4 spot through the point standings thanks to the stage points he accumulated in the opening of Sunday’s penultimate race of the season. Then he got locked into an intense battle for position with Chase Elliott, resurrecting the rivalry that has been generated from the duo’s controversial incident at Martinsville Speedway two weeks ago.

Elliott’s aggressive driving led to contact between the two, which ultimately saw Hamlin cut a tire and hit the wall ending his day and championship aspirations.

“It just proves to the people that thought I was a bad guy that he’d do the exact same thing under the exact same circumstances,” Hamlin said. “I got into him and he chose to retaliate and so I’m in the garage and that’s the way it is.

“We got ran into the fence by the 24 (Elliott) when we running up front all day. We had a bad pit stop and then we didn’t really make any adjustments. Our car got really tight and we were just battling all we could to keep our track position. We weren’t and we allowed out competition to get close to us.”

Hamlin had made up the 19 point deficit he had to Brad Keselowski in the playoff picture coming into the weekend thanks to the stage points he accumulated earlier in the race.

But now he goes to Homestead thrust into the role of spoiler in the Championship 4 title battle.

“We’re just going to keep racing as hard as we can every week and try to go out there and win Homestead and make sure our competition doesn’t,” he said.

 

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