Friday, May 7, 2010

Tough Hamlin Doesn't Need No Stinkin' Tires

If you weren't a believer in Denny Hamlin before, tonight's Nationwide race may have changed your mind.

Running the No. 20 car with first-time JGR crew chief Kevin Kidd, Hamlin made the Lady who's usually too tough to tame look like a shrinking violet.

Kidd's unexpected call to stay out during a late-race caution secured the No.20 car's position. But it was pole-sitter Hamlin who turned that call into a genius move.

While most of the field pinned their hopes on four new tires, Hamlin simply aced the last restart - leaving the second-place Kyle Busch scrambling for headway and viewers astonished that Rowdy the Restart King was being dethroned before their eyes.

In the end, it was checkers for Hamlin and p2 for Busch.

Yet Hamlin won the night in more ways than one. His interview with ESPN reporter Jamie Little in Victory Lane was the most humble, conversational, and relaxed we've seen in a while. He gave due recognition to his crew chief, shared appreciative words for his Mother (who was in attendance) and talked about the importance of the charity for which he was racing.

Not quite the tense, mouthy Hamlin you may remember from 2009.

Last year, during his feud with Brad Keselowski, it seemed Hamlin was trying like the dickens to perpetuate a tough guy image - like the sullen kid on the playground who answers every taunt and tease with a stiff left hook.

And, all things considered, this tack wasn't too surprising. Hamlin has often been overshadowed and out-hyped by his teammate Busch. And to the onlooker, it seems he has occasionally struggled to find his footing and even his identity in the NASCAR garage.

But there's no need to feign toughness now. Hamlin has proven his grit by driving through the pain of a recent ACL surgery to snatch two Sprint Cup victories and now this Nationwide win.

And even if you're not a Hamlin fan, you've got to admit - that's not too shabby.

Photo info - via Twitter posted by @11mommalou (Denny Hamlin's mother)

1 comment:

  1. i am not big fan of Hamlin but i would love to watch todays race after reading your articles:)