Commentary

Disappointing finish at Richmond doesn't spoil Hamlin's weekend

Denny Hamlin was having a spectacular stay at Richmond, but then a flat tire deflated his weekend, he writes in his diary.

Updated: May 9, 2008, 10:28 PM ET
By Denny Hamlin | Special to ESPN.com

It's been a tough week. To leave Richmond without a win in that Sprint Cup race was, as you can guess, really disappointing. I am the kind of person that when something goes wrong, I don't like to talk about it, so I spent a couple of days after Richmond not talking to anyone.

[+] EnlargeDenny Hamlin
AP Photo/Mike McCarnDenny Hamlin won the Nationwide race and the Cup pole at Richmond, but limped home in 24th place.

Looking back, I don't know if I have ever had a car that good. The guys on the FedEx No. 11 team built a car that ran great, the pit crew was perfect on pit stops and everything was going almost too well. It was a terrible feeling when that tire went down because I could feel it going, but the guys on the team could see it and it didn't look like it was going down. So I rode it out for a while and then the tire finally let go. I didn't want to risk a DNF, but that what was going to happen if I kept going and dragging that sway bar off. It was tough to take a 24th-place finish after that weekend, but a DNF would have been much worse.

Despite what happened on Saturday night I am still really happy about the Richmond weekend as a whole. We had a charity Late Model race at Southside Speedway, a place I raced a lot growing up, to kick off the Denny Hamlin Foundation. We raised $50,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and it was a great night of racing. Kyle Busch won, and my spotter, Curtis Markham, raced too. Having this foundation is a great way to give back and, considering just how great this opportunity to race in the Cup series has been, it means a lot to me to give back. I learned a lot about the impact charity can have through our Wear Your Heart on Your Helmet program with FedEx the last couple of seasons and that made me want to get more involved. Richmond, where it all started for me, was the ideal place to kick it all off.

Winning the Nationwide race and sitting on the pole for the Cup race -- along with the foundation -- it was really shaping up to be a perfect weekend. It means a lot to me in front of a lot of friends and family who have been supporting me for a long time. I wish I could have won that Cup race -- that would have been icing on the cake. I can only hope I get another car that good at Richmond again someday.

We tested at Charlotte this week and I showed up with a pretty bad limp. I was playing basketball on Sunday, went up for a lay-up and just got undercut a little bit. I came down hard on my right hip. It was sore for a couple of days, but it's already feeling better. I'll be ready for Darlington.

Denny Hamlin drives the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry. He shares his weekly thoughts on and off the track with ESPN.com readers with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.

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