“Knee-ding” a Win: Homestead-Miami Winner Collects Another
Denny Hamlin rallied from ninth place for his third career victory at Martinsville following a wild green-white-checkered finish (photo courtesy: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport)
With a Sunday rain delay causing him to reschedule his knee surgery until Wednesday, Denny Hamlin went out and cut through the field like a surgeon. Hamlin won the race at Martinsville Speedway on a wild green-white-checkered finish—a necessary victory en route to the crowning of a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For ticket information on Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21), stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
Hamlin, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee playing basketball in January, originally had planned to wait to repair it until after NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). But fear of long-term disablement in his left knee motivated him to opt for reconstructive surgery sooner rather than later.
Said Hamlin: “We were doing some further damage to the knee, and to me it's not something that's worth suffering forever or having a permanent limp or anything like that. It just didn't make much sense.”
His Sprint Cup competitors might feel the same way about losing out to a gimpy-need Hamlin, who alongside teammate Kyle Busch chose to pit for tires with less than 10 laps remaining. Leading before pitting, Hamlin rejoined the race in 15th place and trailed new-leader Jeff Gordon on the final restart. The four-time Sprint Cup Series Champion, however, was shuffled out of the lead as Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano all bumped and banged into each other pursuing the win. It was ultimately Hamlin who rallied from ninth place to the lead in a span of just four laps.
“That’s hard to do,” said Hamlin, a popular preseason pick to unseat reigning four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson for the crown at Homestead-Miami Speedway this fall. “I had to bully my way through there towards the end, but everybody was just running into everyone. I flattened my tired with Kenseth going down the backstretch and just somehow made it work.”
Johnson, who won three of the first five races this season, finished ninth and moved into the Championship points lead that will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21. After six races, Johnson is 14 markers ahead of Greg Biffle and 16 ahead of third-place Kenseth.
NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains in the Top 10 in the Sprint Cup Championship standings after finishing 15th at Martinsville.
The next race in the pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—is slated for Saturday, April 10, at Phoenix. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 7 PM.
All three of NASCAR’s premier racing series—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series—again will crown Champions during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE.
On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya
Rain at Martinsville forced not only a postponement of the race until Monday but also the cancellation of Friday qualifying, forcing South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya to start mid-pack. He was strong early but drove to a 36th-place result after a blown tire caused him to crash, resulting in another of the DNFs that has haunted him this season.
“You want to finish, you want to score points,” said Montoya. “You look at Bristol, we didn’t do anything wrong, they wrecked in front of us and took us with them. It is part of racing. Out of [six] races, we have had [four] wrecks. It makes it really hard; hard for the points.
“The bright side out of it is that we have a really fast car and we have led four out of [the first] five races. I think that is really exciting and I think here we can lead again, hopefully we lead the right lap.”
Montoya sits 25th in the standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, which will be crowned at his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21.
Montoya continues his pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—on Saturday, April 10, at Phoenix. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 7 PM.
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