NASCAR: Moody Hamlin on upswing after win
MARTINSVILLE, Va. ó Denny Hamlin will be the first to admit that the youthful, smiling face that fans see most often helps mask some over-the-top expectations.
Not satisfied with being the rookie of the year in 2006, or with making the Chase for the championship two years running, Hamlin is impatient to succeed, hypercritical of himself when he doesn’t and prone to letting the bottom line dictate his mood.
“He gets likes he’s moody, like he’s not in a good mood or something’s going wrong,” said J.D. Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing and Hamlin’s boss throughout his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. “The reality is if he runs well and wins, he’s in a good mood, and if he doesn’t, he’s not in a good mood. That’s it. That’s the bottom line.”
He was all smiles Sunday after a late pit strategy not to take tires gave him the track position that produced his fourth career victory in the Sprint Cup Series.
But his relief was obvious, too, in his repeated use of the word “finally.”
The victory was Hamlin’s first in 25 races, and there’s the problem. Between his winning burnouts last July at New Hampshire and last Sunday at Martinsville, he figures there have been at least a handful of races where he had a chance at winning.
“Any average driver’s probably going to have the best car maybe once or twice a year, maybe not even that much,” Hamlin said. “We felt like we had the best cars the first two or three races of the season, and to not have any wins, that’s frustrating.”