NASCAR: Already under scrutiny, Hamlin hurts hip
By Jenna Fryer
CONCORD ó Just when Denny Hamlin thought things couldnít get any worse, he fell hard on his left hip playing basketball and could hardly walk when he arrived Monday for testing at Loweís Motor Speedway.
iIíd like to say I was going up for a dunk, but I think everybody knows that ainít true,î Hamlin said. iWhen I went up, the person was lower than I was and I kind of clipped over his shoulder and I was horizontal to the ground ó that was bad. It popped and it doesnít feel good at all.
iI couldnít lay on it last night, and it ainít getting much better.î
The injury came roughly 24 hours after Hamlin led a record 381 of the first 382 laps at Richmond International Raceway, only to lose a coveted win on his hometown track when he cut his right front tire. He intentionally stopped his car on the track to bring out the caution needed to head to pit road for a tire change.
He went from a certain win to a 24th-place finish, and was criticized for the deliberate caution that played a factor in the final outcome. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was wrecked by Kyle Busch after the restart, and Clint Bowyer scooted by both for the victory.
iI was trying to get to pit road, and the problem was if I ran any kind of speed around the race track, I was going to drag the sway bar arm off,î he said. iI went into Turn 3, and thatís when I totally lost the entire tire, so I stopped trying to be able to turn it down onto pit road, but Iíd already crossed over to the wall.
iI didnít want to risk tearing up the car to where weíd risk not being able to finish the race. So I had to stop or else I was going to jeopardize us even finishing the race.î
NASCAR penalized Hamlin two laps for causing the caution, and Earnhardt was critical of the move. Some fans even accused Hamlin of deliberately bringing out the yellow to give Busch, his teammate, a better chance to catch Earnhardt after the restart.
Hamlin insisted he had no idea where Busch was even running, and he stopped on the track only to ensure he didnít fail to finish a race he was moments away from winning. He also said he wasnít worried about any negative reaction in the garage.
iI think everyone has been in that situation, so nobody will say anything to me about stopping,î he said. iI was already (mad) because I felt like we should have won the race. Regardless, if I was running fifth, I would have done the same thing because I pride myself on not getting DNFs. If I would have run one more lap on that flat tire … we would have been done.
iI had to do what I had to do, regardless if it affected someone else or not.î