"It's tough; it really is. But we have a handful of races that come down to it each year and we've worked to get better at it," he continued. "This is like the second of 15 or something that we've attempted to finish in a low fuel situation and got it done. So I'm improving and we're improving. I wish we could have raced for it."
But the Toyota engines in the JGR cars weren't set-up to allow such a high degree of fuel saving and so Busch and Hamlin had no chance of matching Johnson's feat.
"Thank you, TRD," fumed Busch over the team radio, referring to Toyota Racing Development who build the team's engines for them this season. "[Screwed] us out of another one," he added, alluding to a number of engine problems that had beset the team this season.
It was left to his crew chief Dave Rogers to be more diplomatic about the situation. "We were running more aggressive on power. There were some options to save fuel, but we were on max power today," he explained. "It bit us a little bit - we had a fast car though."
Busch and Hamlin ended up off the lead lap and finished in seventh and eighth positions. That's by no means a disaster for Hamlin's Chase hopes and keeps him firmly in the title hunt, but it could have been so much better given the pair's dominant form all afternoon.
"We choose to have the horsepower over the fuel mileage and some guys don't tune that way - when you have a race-winning car you don't want to give up any of the horsepower," said Hamlin. "It's so frustrating. It's like all the hard work that you do, it just doesn't pay off. Same thing at Richmond, we just didn't have the fuel mileage.
"They're not going to beat us on the track, that's just plain and simple. We're just too fast right now and I feel like everything is going well," he continued. "We need to improve our fuel mileage, we know that and we'll work on that as much as anything. For me, I'm not too discouraged because we ran our ass off today."
Despite finishing in second place, Jeff Gordon is still struggling to recover from his disastrous opening race to the 2012 Chase at Chicago, which saw his throttle stick and send his car into the wall and a costly premature retirement from the race. Even though he finished in third place last week and now as runner-up at Dover, he's still mired down in tenth place in the standings and some 48pts off the lead.
"We have to look very realistically at this point," said Gordon. "We're not going to continue this championship against those guys up front if they keep running the way they're running. The only way we're going to get a chance at them is if they have a problem like we had."
But in the meantime, all he can do is keep on doing what he's doing - finishing as strongly as he can every week: "I think our focus is top fives, try to win. If we keep running like this we'll get the wins. We can't control what the other guys do, we can only control what we do."