Hamlin has finished within a few car lengths of the race winner in two consecutive races now, coming just two tenths shy of race winner Chase Elliott Sunday at Daytona.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started from pole position and led 16 laps, but was unable to mount a real challenge against Elliott at the end, who has won the last three road course races on the NCS schedule.
However, a late-race restart allowed him to close the gap and at least get the Hendrick Motorsports driver to look in the rearview mirror.
“I knew Chase wasn’t going to miss his marks, and I actually spun my tires pretty good on that restart,” said Hamlin of the final run to the finish. “I just didn’t want to overdrive it and not give myself a chance, and so I did drive in there pretty deep, and I got it to rotate pretty good, and my main key was to get to second by the time I got to Turn 3, and we were able to do that. But Chase just got out there. We could gain like a car length a lap and then I gained it all in those last two corners.
“I just wanted to keep him honest, and it seemed like the closer we got, the more his car was either wheel hopping or sliding the front tires. We were at least kind of keeping him honest there to make him push his car to earn the victory.”
Four of Elliott’s eight Cup Series…