Denny Hamlin “encouraged” with Las Vegas run but wants more

He found some but could have used a little more.

Hamlin clearly had the best car in Sunday night’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading 121 of the 268 laps but an untimely caution during a late-round of green-flag pit stops turned the race upside down.

At first, it looked like Hamlin could be in for another rough night – initially getting caught a lap down – but he and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team rallied in overtime to come away with a third-place finish.

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“We had a dominant car today and I’m proud of the whole team for giving me such a great car. By far the best car I’ve had in Las Vegas in a long time. It was really, really good,” Hamlin said.

“Really encouraged by the way we ran, but very disappointed that we didn’t get a win. It’s just been the way that the playoffs have gone. Whoever stays out the longest (during green-flag stops) puts themselves in a great spot to win.”

Hamlin, who didn’t finish better than 12th in the three first-round races, was never in danger of not advancing to the second round due to the bonus points he’s collected during the regular season.

After his finish Sunday, he has a 58-point cushion above the cutoff heading into next weekend’s race at Talladega. The final race of the second round is in two…

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