Hamlin's title hopes come up short again: "That was all it had"

As it turned out, the two drivers who dominated Victory Lane during the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season were left without the championship.

Kevin Harvick, who led the series with nine wins, was eliminated from further playoff contention last weekend at Martinsville, Va.

Hamlin, who had seven wins this season, barely advanced to the Championship 4 based on points out of Martinsville. He finished fourth in Sunday’s season finale at Phoenix Raceway but was the only title contender not to lead a lap in the race.

“We were a little off handling, but overall car speed, we just didn’t have enough,” Hamlin said. “Our next best teammate was 10th, so as an organization we have got to get a little better, especially on the short tracks.

“It seems like we were a little bit off all year, and that was all it had, that’s for sure. I was pushing for everything I had. We just didn’t quite have enough today, and we ended up fourth.”

The next-best Toyota in Sunday’s race was Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch was 11th and Erik Jones ended up 22nd.

None of the JGR drivers led a lap in Sunday’s race.

Just not enough

However, Hamlin said the difference between running fourth and contending for the win was “just a little bit every lap.”

“It was so, so small. At times we were pretty good and maybe I had the fastest car, but it was just a few laps here and there. We just needed a little bit more,” he said.

“Obviously, this package in particular we weren’t great this year and this was one of our better runs with it, but it just wasn’t enough really.”

Hamlin, 39, remained upbeat on his season, despite coming up short for the second consecutive year in the title race.

“No one has won more than we have over the last two years. Daytona 500 two years in a row, the final four two years in a row. I’m pretty proud of what this team is doing and what we are building toward,” he said.

“We will come back and do it again next year. I’m looking forward to it. We will win as many races as we possibly can to get ourselves back to Phoenix again with another shot.”

Hamlin will also expand his footprint in NASCAR next season, becoming a minority owner in a Cup team with NBA legend Michael Jordan that will field a Toyota for driver Bubba Wallace.

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Chase Elliott wins the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship
Previous article

Chase Elliott wins the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship

Next article

Team Penske had speed Sunday but it really needed a caution

Team Penske had speed Sunday but it really needed a caution
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021