Denny Hamlin hasn’t missed a beat since returning to action after missing last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He was sidelined at the 11th hour in Fontana because of a vision problem that was originally thought to be a sympton of a sinus infection but was later determined to be a result of a sliver of metal and rust in his eye. Upon his return to action in his home state of Virginia at Martinsville Speedway this weekend, Hamlin posted the fastest lap time in practice and then went on to qualify on the front row for Sunday’s STP 500.
And before qualifying on Friday, he made a bold statement; he promised to win the race on Sunday. Hamlin’s made such a declaration before. He promised a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in 2013, and not only did he deliver, he proverally spanked the field in the process.
Hamlin’s been the center of perceived controversy this past week, all over the lack of up-to-the-minute news regarding the problem that kept him out of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota last Sunday. But is all the judgement and cricism called for? According to Hamlin, the answer to that would be a resounding, “No.” READ FULL PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, HERE
“My health is my business, but what if it was cancer or tumor — I don’t have to tell anyone that. It’s my business,” Hamlin said. “People who think ngatively of me or think that we side-stepped some sort of drug test or something is ridiculous. I’m in one of the top-three cars in NASCAR.I would have to be an absolute moron — moron to risk that. I have a daughter that I have to provide for a really long time. For people to question who I am inside and outside the race car, I’ve never done anything to even put that in question.”
The reasoning behind the rumors and questioning stemmed from the fact that, although Joe Gibbs Racing announced prior to the race on Sunday that Hamlin would be out of the car for the race because of vision problems caused by a sinus infection, information regarding an official cause of Hamlin’s problems didn’t come until Wednesday of the following week — two days after the last bit of rust was removed from his eye.
According to Hamlin, the reason for the delay was that after the rust removal, his doctor wanted to wait and make sure the sinus infection wasn’t attributing to the problem. And, therefore, he waited until Wednesday to clear Hamlin to race at Martinsville.
Seems like some of his fellow-competitors and race fans, alike, thought, “Why not an update, dude?”
Updates may have prevented the drug test rumors. But did he really owe us, as in fans and other drivers, a quicker explanation? Or should we just mind our own da** business? Aside from competitors wondering because they race with Hamlin at high speeds in close quarters week in and week out, maybe we should just butt out. After all, NASCAR seemed to be kept in the loop, and the sanctioning body, surely, wouldn’t let somebody race if they were a danger to the other competitors.
Maybe this issue is just a product of the society we live in. We’re used to getting our information yesterday and tabloid “news” feeds off that need with daily doses of rumors, truth be da****. Then there’s not-so-real reality TV. That’s not Hamlin’s fault. Sure, an update here and there would’ve probably provented the criticism of which Hamlin found himself on the receiving end. But in the end, he didn’t do anything wrong, either.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR