It was a battle for the lead between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin on lap 154 of the 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday — with Hamlin coming away with the top spot and ultimately the race win.

Hamlin’s winning move pushed Larson up the track into the outside wall, a move the No. 5 driver didn’t appreciate.

“I mean it is what it is,” Larson said after the race. “Yeah, we’re friends. Yes, this makes things awkward but you know whatever you know he’s always right; always. All the buddies know Denny’s always right so I’m sure, I’m sure he was in the right there as well but you know it just is what it is.”

Larson noted this was not the first time he and Hamlin got into it on the track.

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“I’m not gonna let it tarnish a friendship on track but I am (expletive),” Larson said. “And I feel like I should be (expletive).”

The 30-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver said he would need to race Hamlin differently on the track going forward.

“I think at this point I have to,” Larson said. “I’ve never had to apologize to him about anything I’ve done on the racetrack. I can count four or five times where he’s had to reach out to me, ‘Oh, man, sorry, I put you in a bad spot there.’ So eventually, like he says you got to start racing people a certain way to get respect back.”

Larson reiterated his stance on Hamlin and defended his own actions on the track.

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“I don’t think I deserve to be run into before I ever got to the wall,” Larson explained. “I’m gonna go racing Sprint car on Tuesday night. That’s the best medicine for a tough result.”

Finishing 20th in the race put the 2021 Cup Series champion 93 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr. in the playoff race. Larson has two wins this season along with 10 Top 10 finishes and none Top 5s.

The Larson-Hamlin contact wasn’t the only drama at Pocono. Austin Dillon took issue with Tyler Reddick after crashed into the wall and spun into the grass.

Featured image via Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images