Denny Hamlin had walked out of Victory Lane after winning a thrilling NASCAR Cup Series duel over Kyle Larson with a last-lap pass at Kansas Speedway on Sunday just in time to hear his crew chief, Chris Gabehart, make a bold proclamation.

“He’s the most talented race car driver in the world,” Gabehart was saying.

Awkward, because Gabehart wasn’t talking about his own driver.

“Tells you what he thinks about me,” Hamlin said with a wry grin.

Gabehart was talking about Larson, who was leading in the closing laps on a sizzling day in the heartland. But it was Hamlin who was better this time. He spent about 30 laps stalking Larson before making a couple of failed attempts at the lead in the closing laps. Finally, heading onto the backstretch on the final one, Hamlin pulled alongside Larson and made the slightest of contact, sending him bumping into the outside wall and giving Hamlin a clear path to the finish line.

The victory ended a 33-race winless drought for Hamlin dating to last year’s Coca-Cola 600. And along with giving Hamlin a record fourth win at Kansas, it gave Joe Gibbs Racing its 400th win overall in NASCAR’s top series.

“I was sideways. He was sideways. I knew it was going to be close whether he could clear me,” Hamlin said. “I was grinding his left side, trying to keep the side-draft as much as I could. It’s such a super-sensitive part and I hooked him at the end.”

Hamlin said he planned to speak with Larson about the finish at some point.

“I was really loose,” Larson said. “He was able to finally get my inside off two. It seemed he was side-drafting me aggressively. I don’t know if he finally got me turned sideways, but turned me into the outside wall and he got the win.”