Denny Hamlin’s day has a much happier ending than beginning
NASCAR Wire Service
— Considering the way Sunday started for Denny Hamlin, a third-place finish in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 might have defied the omens from early in the day.
Hamlin was on the way to an early-morning appearance when the driver introduction stage, being hauled by a tractor, collided with the golf cart in which Hamlin was riding. The golf car was totaled, but Hamlin saw the accident coming and leaped out of the vehicle before the impact.
Before the race, Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota fell off its jack, forcing the team to do extra work to get it through inspection.
Considering that he also had to overcome a speeding penalty on his first pit stop, Hamlin’s eventual third-place finish might be considered a blessing, even though the handling of Hamlin’s car eroded over the final 100 laps.
“Yeah, I thought it was a great start of my day, for sure, getting wiped out on the golf cart, my car falling off the jack,” Hamlin said. “Eventually, the odds are that you’re going to have something go smooth. I thought as soon as we had that speeding penalty at the beginning, I knew I put ourselves back in a hole again.
“I knew patience is what we needed to exercise there. We got through the pack clean, which was good. There were a few close calls. But it was a tough start to
the day, great middle, and blah ending.”
Though Hamlin escaped injury in the golf car accident, the vehicle was destroyed.
“Ever seen Big Foot (a monster truck) and those cars they set up for him to jump over?” Hamlin quipped. “We were the car. I saw it coming, jumped out of the cart. (Martinsville Speedway President) Clay Campbell is going to get a bill.”
After blown tire, Edwards faces uphill battle
A blown tire late in Sunday’s race almost certainly put Carl Edwards in a win-or-bust position for the next two races in the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Edwards was running ninth when the blown tire sent him hard into the outside wall on Lap 358 of 500. Ultimately, Edwards finished 36th, 23 laps down and trails teammate Kyle Busch by 32 points for the final spot in the Championship 4 finale, set for Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The best medicine for the driver of the No. 19 Toyota would be a victory, either next Sunday at Texas or Nov. 13 at Phoenix. Otherwise, Edwards isn’t likely to have a shot at the series title at Homestead.
“We had a really good race going and sometimes that’s just what happens in racing. I think we had a top- three car. I was having a lot of fun, and now we just go to Texas and try to win there and Phoenix – we could win at either one of those race tracks.”
Gordon enjoys (perhaps) his last run at Martinsville
Jeff Gordon doesn’t plan to race again in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car – unless team owner Rick Hendrick twists his arm.
But Gordon hopes circumstances won’t force him into another substitute role. Competing in place of ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the last time this season, Gordon finished sixth on Sunday in his Martinsville swan song.
“Well, I had a lot of fun out there,” Gordon said after the race. “It’s great to be here in front of all these awesome short track and Martinsville NASCAR fans. It’s just a special place to me, and I had a lot of fun and had a great car. This No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet was really good. I knew we didn’t have the shortrun speed for some of those Gibbs cars…
“I would rather have won. I felt like we had a fourth-or-fifth-place car the run before that (last run), so I always wanted to get the most out of it. I was a little disappointed it didn’t take off there at the last yellow, but very proud of this team proud of my performance. Best finish I’ve had in this car (subbing for Earnhardt). Good way to finish my run this year in the No. 88 Chevy.”
Notice Gordon said “my run this year” and not “my career.”
Ravens guard Marshal Yanda returned to practice last week after missing two straight games and will like play Sunday when Baltimore hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle for first place in the AFC North.
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday in Martinsville, Va.