AVONDALE, AZ — Denny Hamlin struggled over the course of the final 12 races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. He admitted that they just didn’t have it on Sunday at the Phoenix Raceway.
Hamlin, did earn his fourth top five finish in his last five starts on the Arizona oval, but he was last among the Championship 4 drivers with a fourth place result in his No. 11 Toyota in the Season Finale 500.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver just struggled with the handling of his race car all day. He was tight for a majority of it as he finished second in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2.
“We were a little off handling, but overall car speed, we just didn’t have enough,” Hamlin said on Sunday. “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.
“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, only won once in the playoffs after scoring six in the regular season. That came at Talladega in the Round of 12. He also only had just four top five finishes in the final 12 weeks. He had seven top six finishes, six in the top three including two wins and three runner-ups, in the eight races prior.
While Hamlin notes that Championship 4 appearances should hold a lot of merit when looking at a NASCAR drivers’ career during this era of racing, does the doubt creep in if he’ll ever win a title?
“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.”