Denny Hamlin was upset with the way the closing laps played out in Monday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver came up short in a duel with Brad Keselowski for the race win. When the checkered flag flew Hamlin saw his chance to win at Indianapolis disappear in the disappointment of a third place finish.
Hamlin and Clint Bowyer were the duo that appeared headed to battle for the win until a late accident between Landon Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt brought out caution and set up what turned out to be the fateful last restart. Keselowski, who had fresher tires, lined up third behind Hamlin and Bowyer and made his charge to the top spot. Once he finally got by Hamlin for the lead – and not before contact a couple of times – Keselowski pulled away.
“We executed flawlessly on pit lane, our strategy was good, we had a fast car, just circumstances,” Hamlin said. “Cautions killed us at the end which allowed those guys to go up there. Those meaningless cautions at the end by drivers multiple laps down – what they are doing crashing with a few laps to go, I have no idea. It cost us the race.”
Hamlin led 37 laps on Monday and did have one of the fastest cars all day after starting 10th. While he has qualified for the playoffs, he remains winless and frustrated he wasn’t able to accomplish one of his major goals by winning at Indianapolis.
“All I care about is not winning this race,” he said. “It’s one that was big on my races that I wanted to win and the team gave me the car that was certainly capable of doing that today. We executed flawlessly on pit lane, our strategy was good we had a fast car.
“I’m definitely happy with our speed, but it’s hard for me to see any positives right now. I’m hung up on all the negatives of not winning this race and really disappointed from my standpoint. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”