Denny Hamlin managed to lead the first 27 laps of the Folds of Honor QuickTrips 500, but struggled to stay in the top position the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately for Hamlin, he still maintained his points lead with a fourth-place finish, and is becoming an early favorite to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
“Just not fast enough. It’s kind of the story so far. We’re getting our balance decently close, but just not enough speed, not enough balance, handling – not enough grip," said Denny Hamlin during the post-race press conference. " Just need more speed. We’ll go to work on it. Just trying to gather a notebook. I just hate that we’re having these clean races and everything, but there’s always just one or two cars that are a little bit faster.”
Does Denny Hamlin have the consistency to finally win a title?
Hamlin started on the pole for Sunday's race and finished the opening stage in fifth place. After that, he fell to ninth at the end of Stage 2, but still managed to recover and cross the finish line in fourth, which helped add to his point lead.
Furthermore, with consistency being key to making a run at the playoffs, Denny Hamlin is sitting pretty with five top 5s and 10 top 10s. He also has strong finishes at a lot of the tracks that NASCAR will revisit in the playoffs, making it the perfect opportunity for the 40-year-old and his team to build a playoff playbook.
Everyone in the NASCAR Cup Series is chasing Denny Hamlin right now, and it could end up staying that way for a while. Not only is that evident by how far ahead he is in the points, but also due to all the success he is having at tracks critical to winning the Cup Series title that has eluded him since his first full-time season in 2006.