Denny Hamlin led 17 laps in Saturday night’s race, but instead off getting the win he covets at what amounts to his home track, the driver from Chesterfield, Va., came home sixth.
Hamlin goes into the Chase for the Nextel Cup as the sixth seed, 50 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Four of the five drivers seeded ahead of him are former series champions.
“We need to pick up our momentum a little bit,” Hamlin said.
“We’re not coming in with the big momentum like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and 24 (Jeff Gordon) are, but I think for the most part we are solid and that’s what to take in the Chase – to be consistent.
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“I think we’re just going to have to keep running top five like we have been all year long. We’re not winning races like those guys but we’re consistent and that goes a long way. ...Not everyone is going to have a silky smooth Chase. We just have to capitalize if one of them has trouble.”