A decision to stay out put Denny Hamlin in a difficult position at the conclusion of Homestead.
Denny Hamlin had to endure the pain of watching yet another championship slip away Sunday night. He was in control with eight laps to go, but was unable to defend against Kevin Harvick, who had fresher tires. Hamlin also slipped up the track when trying to block the No. 4, making the pass fairly easy for his title rival.
On the following restart, he stumbled from third position and lost any shot of making a dive into turn one. He would finish seventh. Despite the result, the Toyota driver claims he has no regrets.
"There's not one thing I would have done different. I mean, we brought a car that was capable of winning. I just don't know how to express it enough. Sometimes breaks go your way, sometimes they don't. They just didn't go our way."
Obviously we were sitting ducks as long as cautions kept coming.
"I think we overachieved greatly by being here, and we haven't had the speed to compete for race wins all year, and we did today, on the race that really mattered. Just came up short."
"I thought our car really came into its own as soon as it went dark and I thought we had the best car," he told reporters following the loss. "We just struggled with restart speed ... Kind of the theme of the year."
Strategy call doesn't work out
Crew chief Darian Grubb's strategy to stay out on old tires may have worked out had it not been for multiple late-race cautions, which proved costly for the No. 11. Hamlin spoke a little bit about that, saying "I gave up a position to Harvick there with 20-some laps to go, and Darian tried to make a call to make that back up and leave us out there on tires, and obviously we were sitting ducks as long as cautions kept coming. We were able to jump out and get the lead, you know, had a decent lead, and just the cautions didn't go our way."
Newman is officially scored as finishing the season third in points, six points shy of the title.