Denny Hamlin Reflects On The NASCAR Championship That Almost Was

To hear Denny Hamlin tell it, it wasn't just the 14th-place finish at Homestead that doomed his championship hopes.

It was a number of other small things, including when he was forced to pit at Phoenix last week while leading due to poor fuel mileage.

"It's so many turning points in this Chase where it can go one way or the other or in anybody's favor," said Hamlin, who ultimately finished second in the points. "Just think about all of the situations you wish you could go back and change; right now it's more thinking about that."

Hamlin said being short on the fuel mileage because of increased engine power in his Toyota this season ultimately hurt him. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said "that's just one of the things on the list that we have got to work on."

Had Hamlin gotten better fuel mileage – or tried to make it to the end at Phoenix – he could have had a 70 or 80 point lead heading into the season finale. Instead, it was only 15 points (he lost by 39).

Having a big lead obviously would have turned out better for Hamlin, he said, but added, "There would not have been as much hype about the race because we could have coasted...to a win today."

"But like I said, there's many, many aspects of a winning race team," he said, "and you've got to have all of those parts and pieces put together."

Will this motivate Hamlin further or sink his attitude to the point of hampering his performance?

"As competitive as what we are right now...there's lots of things that I could do to be better and there's lots of things that we can do as a team to be better," he said. "So my focus, when Monday comes around, is what I need to do to execute all of those things."

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