Denny Hamlin finished second in Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin pitted for two tires in his final pit stop giving him a run at the leaders. When the final caution flag flew with one lap remaining, eventual race-winner Ryan Blaney had taken his window net down and was unable to secure it before the final restart. While Hamlin had a run on the outside of Blaney in the final lap, he was not able to make the pass and was forced to settle for a second-place result.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Texas Motor Speedway
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Ryan Blaney*
2nd, DENNY HAMLIN
3rd, Austin Cindric*
4th, Joey Logano*
5th, Daniel Suarez*
10th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
14th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
16th, BUBBA WALLACE
21st, KYLE BUSCH
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What did you need on the final restart and what are your thoughts on the window net situation with Ryan Blaney?
“I just needed to stay beside the 12 (Ryan Blaney). You know, it’s tough because he deserved to win the race, but if you mess up and you break a rule – not intentionally, but there’s rules and we have rules in place for safety. My crew chief is taking four weeks off because of safety. I nearly crashed him off of turn two when I got squeezed there. If I send him into traffic and he’s got no window net, then what right? Luckily, that didn’t happen and NASCAR avoids another controversy because there wasn’t a wreck in a car with no window net.”
Do you think Ryan Blaney should have been black-flagged?
“That’s the rule. I don’t know what we’re talking about here. This is not a judgement call by me. This is just, that’s the rule. It’s unfortunate for him. Very, very unfortunate for him, but it’s the rule. You have to play by the rules.”
How was your race overall tonight?
“Our car was good. We lost the handle there with a couple runs to go and just started getting really loose. The further up front we were, the looser we got. We had an opportunity and I got right where I wanted to be on the 12 (Ryan Blaney) there and I got to his outside and he just kept forcing up, up, up and I just couldn’t quite stay there. I think he was going to come up not matter what and we were probably going to crash because he knew we were in a bad spot. I got a really good run through one and two and I couldn’t ask for much more there. I just didn’t have Daniel (Suarez) pushing me down the frontstretch and unfortunately with that, I couldn’t get up beside him as far as I needed to.”
Was the final caution your only chance to beat Ryan Blaney?
“I thought that it was an opportunity, otherwise the 12 was going to win the race and he was probably 100 yards from it, I don’t know. I’m just frustrated that we have a rule. It can’t be a convenience rule. We’re taking four weeks off, my crew chief is, because of safety. I almost wrecked (Ryan) Blaney off turn two and he had no window net up so what happens when I wreck him and we go head-on into him. We’ve got a problem then. It’s just frustrating because we just have no consistency in our officiating.”
Should NASCAR have let him come to pit road and put the window net up and allow him to regain his position on the race track?
“Then you’re changing the rules. You can’t change the rules. Why? Because you feel bad for the guy? I’ve had race-winning cars for the past four weeks and I’ve had stuff happen to me. That’s doesn’t mean they’re going to say, ‘Well, you should have won the race so we’ll give you the win.’ It doesn’t matter. You can’t make-up rules.”
Do you feel Ryan Blaney should have had to come to pit road?
“That is the rule, it’s a rule. This is not a Denny Hamlin judgement call. This is a play by the rules call.”
Can you talk about the call to only take two tires on the final pit stop?
“I mean, it was the best shot we had to win. Honestly, they gave me good track position and that’s all I could ask for. We had a fast race car. We lost the handle a little bit there on the last couple of runs really. We started getting really loose, but I got the opportunity I wanted and couldn’t ask for much more than that.”
How frustrating is this result due to the circumstances at the end of this race?
“Again, we just ask to play by the rules. If you tell us what the rules are, we’re going to play by them. You can’t just change them, I mean you can if you own the series, but it’s not fair to the other competitors. If you make a mistake and he (Ryan Blaney) clearly made a mistake and he should have won the race, but if you make a mistake, you have to play by the rules. And if it breaks a rule then you have to abide by it and the results are the results. There are many races that have been lost because someone makes a mistake. Just because morally he should have won doesn’t mean you should win.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 21st
How do you describe what happened in the incident that ended your race?
“I just got a flat tire off of four, right-rear is flat. Unfortunate for our guys at Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota, M&M’s. We had a really fast race car, great race car and had led all the laps up to that point obviously. Disappointing to not be able to go out and race for a million bucks.”
Did you see Ross Chastain coming behind you before the accident?
What were you feeling in the car before the accident?
“Just when I got to the exit of four, the right-rear went down. I was trying to limp it around and get it to the bottom of the track. Just got ran over. I don’t know, just tough day for our M&M’s Camry, it was superfast. Just real proud of the guys, everything we had and we were doing it right. Just not able to go out and race for a million bucks right now. Pretty disappointed.”
Did you have any indication before the tire went down?