Posted October 25, 2013 on AP on Fox
PLAYERS: Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin thinks that he might have come back too soon from an injury - and he's glad he did. The driver for Joe Gibbs Racing missed only four races after sustaining a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24. The perennial series championship contender rushed back hoping to defy the odds, qualify for the NASCAR's 10-race playoffs and make a run at the championship that has eluded him in his career. Instead, after a hope-fueling return that included second- and fourth-place finishes in his second and third starts, Hamlin's luck essentially ran out. He didn't make the Chase, and has struggled mightily. Might it have been better to give up on the year when he got hurt and focus on his health? ''Maybe,'' he said Friday at Martinsville Speedway, where Hamlin has won four times in his career. ''It definitely wouldn't have taken the mental toll that this year, post coming back, has, but the struggles that we're having now will define us later down the road. If we would have just gotten hurt, sat out, got healthy and came back next season, I'm not sure I would have been as mentally tough as I am now.'' The Virginia driver will start Sunday's race 24th in the points, and with just one top-10 finish in his last 18 races. It's not the kind of success he's accustomed to, and it's been good to experience, he said, because it has forced him, through steady exposure, to come to accept that he's not always going to be great. It's a lesson he realizes now he needed to learn. ''That was kind of the fault I had in 2010 in the championship and even previous years,'' he said, speaking of the season he came the closest to the title, finishing second. ''One bad race and I would just kind of freak out and it would linger on and on and one with me for weeks. Now, not that I'm immune to bad finishes, but you just try to find the little positive now versus thinking about the negatives.'' Hamlin hopes to find a whole bunch more positives in the last four races. He's won at least one race in every season since he became a full-time driver in 2006, but hasn't visited Victory Lane yet this year. And then he'll take the time in the offseason to assess his health options. There are three procedures that could help his back heal, and he's not sure what he'll do. He insists his back is feeling ever better, but looks forward to simply having a chance to rest. ''I'm so tight in my lower back area, that obviously I have to tense myself up all the time, so I'm always worn out when races are over with,'' he said. ''I'm always exhausted, mentally exhausted, having to think about how I can do my best job but not let the pain bother me inside the car. I'm always having to kind of move around to make sure I don't sit in one spot too long. All that is a pain, but it's what I've got to deal with, at least until I've got two months to really recover,'' he said. ''With our schedule, we just don't have time. I've been testing the last three weeks. I haven't had more than four days to be out of a car and just let myself rest. I'll get that here in a few weeks.'' But first, there's more racing to do, and while Hamlin's team has been focusing on research and development to come back strong next season, there's that winning streak that he'd like to preserve. ''If we could get a win this weekend, by no means will it fix or make us feel good about our year, but it will definitely give us something to smile about in the offseason,'' he said. And for those that say he's almost forgotten like an also-ran this year? He likes being counted out, too, especially with the 0.526-mile oval awaiting Sunday. ''I think for the competition or anyone from the outside to think that (Hamlin) is going to be the favorite going into a track where we struggled to run top-10 lately would be farfetched,'' he said. ''However, I'm pretty sure and pretty confident that we're going to be a pretty large force on Sunday.'' --- Follow the AP's racing page at: --- Follow Hank on twitter at:

This time, Hamlin enjoys Martinsville

Denny Hamlin hated watching the spring race at Martinsville Speedway from his couch. After Hamlin suffered a compression fracture of a vertebra and reinjured disks in his back in a wreck at Auto Club Speedway on March 24, he was sidelined for the next four races -- including Martinsville, where his 8.2 average finish stands as his second-best track on the Sprint Cup circuit. As...

Hamlin wins pole at Martinsville; Johnson second

Denny Hamlin won the pole position Friday for the NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin led the way as 18 drivers broke Jimmie Johnson's track qualifying record with a speed of 99.595 mph. Johnson, the points leader who set the mark in April, and Kyle Busch tied for second at 99.344 mph, with Johnson getting the second spot Sunday based on the owner points tiebreaker...

ICYMI: Hamlin Riding With His Airness

Denny Hamlin will have a special guest riding with him this weekend at the Martinsville Speedway. The iconic Jumpman logo of Jordan Brand will be the sponsor on Hamlin’s car. Jordan Brand is the shoe brand an apparel company of NBA great Michael Jordan. The relationship is not new between[...]

Martinsville Marks The Return of Denny Hamlin

Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images SAVE $50 ON YOUR WALLHAULERS PURCHASE BY USING THE PROMO CODE: Sick AT CHECKOUT!! It had been seven long, grueling months of misfortune and medicority. Since being sidelined for four races after a vicious crash at Auto Club Speedway back in March, life had flipped upside down for Denny Hamlin. Through his first seven Sprint Cup seasons...

Hamlin could be a help for Kenseth

Matt Kenseth goes into Martinsville knowing that Jimmie Johnson has won eight times there and Matt, at best, only has eight top-10 finishes there. Matt though has to be encouraged by how he ran in the spring Martinsville race this year. You have to believe a lot of that came from the help he received from Joe Gibbs Racing, and especially teammate Denny Hamlin's success there...

NASCAR: Can Denny Hamlin Be Third Straight Non-Chaser to Win?

Martinsville, VA- The last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were won by a driver not in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. That’s an extremely rare thing to happen as most of the Chase races are won by Chase drivers. The reason for that is the Chaser’s get the top equipment, engines and cars. Mix in the fact that guys not in the Chase sometimes don’t race Chasers quite as...

A new track record

SPEED THRILLS -- It seems like 18 was the magic number in NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Friday at Martinsville Speedway, as 18 drivers broke the old track record during qualifying for the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500. Leading the way was Denny Hamlin, who put the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on pole for the series-high fifth time this season. It was the 18th time this...

Kroger 200 from Martinsville Final Practice Times

Denny Hamlin led the way with a lap of 19.575 seconds in the final practice for the Kroger 200 from Martinsville. Rounding out the top five was Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ross Chastain, Daniel Hemric, and Jeb Burton. Pos # Driver Team Time Behind 1 51 Denny Hamlin Jordan Brand Toyota[...]

NASCAR Truck Series Martinsvile: Starting lineup, green flag and tv info for Kroger 200

getty images Denny Hamlin will lead a field of 36 trucks to the green flag for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin is driving the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports and will be joined on the front row by Johnny Sauter. Sauter and Hamlin have won the last two races at Martinsville. There will be 200 laps of racing around the .526...

Denny Hamlin Captures Pole for Martinsville

To say Denny Hamlin has had a rough 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is an understatement, as since returning from a back injury he sustained at California Speedway in March, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry has struggled. He captured a top 10 at Charlotte just weeks ago, his first since Pocono in June and may thought that was the start of a run. Well, at Talladega last week...

Denny Hamlin wins Martinsville Truck Series pole, full qualifying results for Kroger 200

getty images Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole and followed it up with a pole for the Camping World Truck Series later in the day. Hamlin, driving the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, will lead a field of 36 trucks to the green flag on Saturday afternoon. The front row will have the last two Martinsville winners on it with Hamlin who won this race...

Denny Hamlin wins NASCAR Sprint Cup pole at Martinsville, full qualifying results for Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500

getty images Denny Hamlin was the fastest qualifier for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinville Speedway. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota will lead a field of 43 to the green flag for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at the .526 mile paper clipped oval located in Martinsville, VA. Sitting alongside Hamlin on the front row will be points leader Jimmie Johnson. While...

Kroger 200 From Martinsville Starting Lineup

Denny Hamlin won the pole for the Kroger 200 from Martinsville with a time of 19.625 seconds. Johnny Sauter, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ron Hornaday, Jr., and Ty Dillon round out the top five starting positions. The drivers who did not make the event are Spencer Gallagher and Jennifer Jo Cobb.[...]

Darrell Wallace Jr. wins Truck race at Martinsville, full results for the Kroger 200

getty images Darrell Wallace Jr. claimed victory in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 54 Toyota beat Brendan Gaughan to the checkered flag in the 200 lap event held at the .526 mile paperclip oval. Denny Hamlin began the race on the pole but Johnny Sauter wasted no time in leading the first lap but it would not take long for Hamlin...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.