- Associated Press - Monday, July 29, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Denny Hamlin’s response to a fan said everything you need to know about his frustration level.

After Hamlin finished 18th in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a fan tweeted: “Top 20 for (at)dennyhamlin!! Wooooo”

He responded by retweeting the missive with his own commentary: “This is how you know (stuff) is bad.”

Hamlin scored his first top-20 finish in in six races, but was a long way away from cracking the top 10. Hamlin has just five top-10 finishes all season.

These results are foreign territory for Hamlin, who has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship every year since his 2006 rookie season.

Hamlin struggled to keep up early in the race at Indy, where he informed his Joe Gibbs Racing crew “we’re in big, big trouble” moments into the race.

“It’s just frustrating we can’t find the balance we need,” he said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board.”

He better figure out a plan for this weekend’s race at Pocono, where Hamlin is a four-time winner. But his Chase chances are virtually over: Hamlin ranks 25th in the standings.

It hasn’t been an easy year for Hamlin, who missed four races after suffering a compression fracture in a vertebra in his back after a crash at Fontana. There’s hope for him next Sunday, though, as Hamlin returns to Pocono Raceway, where he was eighth in June.

“We have to get some kind of solid run going,” Hamlin said. “We ran decent there just a couple months ago and we were down on horsepower on that race. So I think we should go back there and be competitive. So we’ll just see what we got and move on.”



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