Hamlin Had A Near Miss At Phoenix

Denny Hamlin

For 40-year-old Denny Hamlin, this year’s Championship 4 appearance took on extra significance as he fully realized the championship chances are not to take for granted.

The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota finished third despite not leading a lap on Sunday. That third-place finish in the championship is his best showing since a third-place run in 2014. It was a hard pill to swallow for the three-time Daytona 500 winner and popular veteran driver, who nearly won the 2021 regular season championship losing it to Larson in the closing weeks leading up to the Playoffs.

“Certainly, I really liked where we were at with about 25 laps to go, we were just exceptional in the long run, which wasn’t too surprising, but started running the 19 [Truex] back down there and got within a couple of car lengths and then obviously that debris caution (with 25 laps to go) changed a lot,” Hamlin said.

“Special congrats to Larson and his team. Those guys, any time you can win 10 races in a year, you’re absolutely a deserving champion. They did a great job on the last pit stop and got him out there and it just set sail after that.”

Hamlin finishes the season with a pair of wins, 19 top-five finishes and 25 top-10 finishes – marks second only to Larson.


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