Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin couldn’t overcome track position in Bank of America 500

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CONCORD, North Carolina — Denny Hamlin led the first 40 laps of Sunday’s Bank of America 500, but his No. 11 Toyota didn’t have the speed to challenge Martin Truex Jr. for the win.

Hamlin finished fourth in the race, giving the No. 11 Toyota its fifth top five in the last seven races.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver pointed to struggles on restarts as part of the reason he never consistently challenged for the lead after the opening of the race, though he led five laps during green flag pit stops mid-race.

“Really just couldn’t overcome the track position,” Hamlin told NBC. “I really didn’t think we had much of a faster than where we finished anyway.”

Hamlin was so bad on restarts he had his team ask Furniture Row Racing if he could restart on the inside on one of the final restarts. They declined.

“Just struggled to get through Turns 1 and 2 on restarts and (Turns) 3 and 4 until the (tire) pressures built up ,” Hamlin said. “Like I always say, I’d rather run better and finish worse than the opposite.”

Hamlin’s voice was noticeably hoarse following the 337-lap race on a very humid day at the track. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch suffered from heat stroke-like conditions and elevated carbon monoxide readings, created in-part by damage to his car.

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” said Hamlin of his own physical condition. “You’re prepared for it. We always know the 500 miles here at Charlotte is like 600 somewhere else sometimes.  I think the humidity probably is what drained me the most today. You know, like I say, there’s a lot of salt stains all over my suit, so that tells me dehydration was definitely a factor today.”

Hamlin heads to Talladega Superspeedway fifth in the points standings.

Watch the above video for the full interview.