Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Denny Hamlin is clearly in pain, but still hopes to go at least 100 laps -- 100 miles -- in Saturday's 600K

  Denny Hamlin wants to tough it out, but he says his braking leg just isn't working right (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  By Mike Mulhern

   If NASCAR is so serious about safety, why does it continue to insist that drivers race while injured?
   That's been a debatable issue for years – remember an injured Mark Martin having to be physically lifted into his car so that he could get points credit for the start?
   How well is Denny Hamlin, after last week's knee surgery? Is he really fit enough to drive?
   Hamlin ran 70 laps all totaled Friday, the longest run being 20 laps, and then turned the wheel over to relief driver Casey Mears.
   "The problem is range of motion," Hamlin says of his left knee. "I don't know how far I can go.
    "Until we get to Saturday we won't know.
    "My goal is to know what I'm going to do by lap 100. By that point there's no reason to change or abort. By lap 50, 60 or 70, I need to start thinking if I can go the distant.
    "We're going to do a lot of stuff Saturday to make it better. There is a lot of fluid in there, so they
   "I know as of today I couldn't do it.
   "It's frustrating, because your mind wants your leg to do something and your leg won't do it.
   "I don't feel like I'm doing my best out there.
   "I've done everything I can do (with rehab). If it's just not enough time, it's just that way."
    Pain? What medication?
   "I really can't get into that," Hamlin said. "What I take is up to me."
   Given NASCAR's strict drug policy that might seem a strange answer.
   A NASCAR spokesman says that Dr. David Black, the sport's drug testing administrator, knows everything that Hamlin is taking, but that NASCAR itself doesn't necessarily have to know what he is taking: "We have confidence in Dr. Black." NASCAR drug rules appear to allow any competitor to take most any medication that has been legitimately prescribed if it is okayed by Dr. Black.
    NFL players, when injured but still wanting to continue competing, sometimes get a shot of pain-deadening novocaine and inflamation-reducing cortisone.
   However neither NASCAR officials nor Hamlin would talk about what medications he might be using, or planning to use.
   Hamlin's rivals?
   Jeff Burton: "I don't have any concern. I think Denny will know his limitations, and I'm not concerned about it in the least. 
    "It's a part of the sport. Driving injured is just a part of the sport. 
     "There have probably been a lot of times that people have been injured and no one ever knew about it. 
     "In this case it was one of those things where he had to go public with it. 
     "I don't have any concerns with it.
     "He'll find a way to make it happen...and if he can't, then he'll get out.
     "Driving injured is a part of the sport.
     "Drivers don't particularly like people to know -- the same way professional athletes don't want people to know how they're injured or where they're injured, because they don't want to be viewed as having a weakness. 
      "A lot of times people are hurt and the doctors will know about it, but no one else will. 
     "We've all been in that situation, and we've all had to make that decision. I had to make the decision years ago -- that I just couldn't do it. 
    "I had severe vertigo, and I just couldn't drive.  I could do it for a little while, but over a period of time it just got worse, and worse, and worse, and I finally just had to get out. 
    "There were more times than that that I wondered what the impact would be of trying to drive with a broken leg or broken ribs.
    "I actually got in a race car one time with a broken back when I was trying to win a championship on a local level. 
    "The majority of the time you are able to do it, and you are able to compensate.  There are a few times -- and we saw it last year with Kyle Busch, when he was really ill -- that you just can't do it. 
     "It's a tough decision...and you tend to do it a lot of times when you probably shouldn't, from a performance standpoint -- because someone that was healthy could perform better.
     "But being the guy that's running for points -- and having your name on the roof of the car -- you want to finish it out, even if you're not 100 percent.
     "Sometimes it's a character builder: sometimes you're trying to learn something about yourself."

    [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com