Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin come close but fall short at Pocono

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 26: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Organics CBD 325 at Pocono Raceway on June 26, 2021 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

It was hard to tell who was more disappointed after the second Cup race at Pocono Raceway Sunday, Brad Keselowski or Denny Hamlin.

Both drivers led in final stages. Keselowski led the most laps on the day, 31, and finished third in both stages and was leading with 15 laps to go. But having last pitted on lap 87 he was trying to stretch his fuel out. He lost fuel pressure and was forced to dive into the pits with 8 laps to go.

“We ran a really good race but just didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end like those others guys did,” Keselowski said. They beat us on power and fuel mileage. We have a lot of work to do to keep up with those guys.”

Despite having to give up the lead however, Keselowski was able to rally back and finish third.

“It was a nice rebound from where we have been,” he said. “We have had a lot of bad breaks with things breaking and all kinds of issues across the board. My mistakes, other mistakes. This was a really good day for us.”

Denny Hamlin inherited the lead from Keselowski. He too, pitted around the same time but his crew felt he might just make it.

He fell short and had to pit with just two laps to go.

Hamlin seemed a bit more disappointed with his 14th place finish and felt perhaps his team told him to push a little too soon.

“Just do what I’m told: Don’t run when I’m not supposed to run, run when I’m supposed to run,” he said. “The result is we pitted on the last lap for three weeks in a row. That’s tough. I mean, I hate seeing the white coming to pit road. It’s just so frustrating.

“Fuel mileage has got us the last two weeks. Lug nuts the week before. We’re running fast. We’re getting a little better. I think overall we had a little bit more speed this weekend than what we’ve had the past few weeks.”

He said fuel mileage races are always a challenge.

“I mean, you’re trying to win or you’re trying to get the best finish that you can,” he said. “But ultimately we just didn’t save enough. The 18 I think came in and got topped off because he had transmission issues. That was essentially the race.”