Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Denny Hamlin: Mistake led to Tony Stewart's Sonoma win

DAYTONA BEACH — Denny Hamlin insists he didn't let retiring NASCAR star Tony Stewart win last week at Sonoma Raceway.

Asked about his runnerup finish at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, Hamlin made it clear that his mistake was the main reason Stewart got by him in the final turn Sunday.

Stewart passed Hamlin on the inside going into tricky Turn 11 on the road course and held on to break an 84-race winless streak.

"I didn't let Tony win," Hamlin said. "I made a mistake and didn't execute good," Hamlin said.

"My biggest mistake I feel like is not recognizing the gap I had behind me. … I still needed to execute to make him make the decision. Instead I made the decision for him."

Hamlin took the lead from Stewart in Turn 7, but locked up the wheels and got wide on the final hairpin turn.

The last-lap pass had some questioning whether Hamlin intentionally let Stewart get a much-needed victory in his final season, a win that likely will get the three-time champion one more chance for a title in the Chase for the Championship.

"In my defense, which I should still not make mistakes, is that I've never been in that position before," Hamlin said. "I've not been that competitive on road courses and so I didn't know the proper defensive move going into that last corner."

Hamlin, a Joe Gibbs Racing driver who was once Stewart's teammate, congratulated Stewart in Victory Lane and late apologized to his team.

Now the focus is Daytona, the site of Saturday's Coke Zero 400 and the place where Hamlin picked up the biggest victory of his career in February, in the season-opening Daytona 500. He's trying to become the sixth driver to sweep both races at Daytona in the same season.

"It's definitely been a good year no matter what when you win a race like that," Hamlin said.

Orlando decal: NASCAR teams are running a decal on their cars at Daytona to honor the 49 victims killed last month in the mass shooting in Orlando. "It was a terrible tragedy," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm glad that the sport has got the stickers on all the cars. I think it's a great way for us to show our support."

Denny Hamlin: Mistake led to Tony Stewart's Sonoma win 06/30/16 [Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2016 8:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. USF football and the undefeated degree of difficulty

    College

    TAMPA — In the wake of the latest solar eclipse, USF fans eagerly await the next astronomical phenomenon.

    USF head coach Charlie Strong leads his team during practice last month in Tampa. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Nature Coast puts unbeaten streak on the line vs. IMG White

    Footballpreps

    BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast currently rides a 22-game regular-season win streak, but first-year football coach Cory Johns was not around for any of those wins. Neither was most of his coaching staff. This is an entirely new campaign with new obstacles ahead.

    Nature Coast offensive lineman Louis Miele (66) blocks a Sunlake defensive player during the Clash 4 Clayton football scrimmage and fundraiser at Springstead High School Spring Hill, Fla. on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
  3. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.