Home Cookin For Hamlin
October 24, 2006 | 9:01 A.M. EST
Denny Hamlin nearly pulled it off, putting on a furious charge over the final laps to try and get past Jimmie Johnson for the victory.
"I really wanted to keep this grandfather clock in Virginia, that’s for sure,” said Hamlin of his near win. “I’m just so proud of this whole FedEx Freight crew. We had a scare today but they did a great job. In the end we tried to steal a win from those guys and it didn’t quite work out but it was still a great day for this whole team.”
Hamlin found himself on Johnson's rear bumper after the race's final restart and although he took one shot at moving Johnson out of the way, raced him cleanly for the win.
"You don’t want to wreck from the lead and you don’t want to win one like that," Hamlin said. "You can maybe rub the guy out of the way and take the win but you don’t want to wreck them. That’s just a bad deal. You don’t want to do that. I had that in mind and Jimmie had the best car and he deserved to win."
It's that kind of talk - and composure - that has given Hamlin the respect of a veteran driver, rather than a rookie.
"You want to give yourself a chance to win," he said. "On the other hand, you don’t want to take the guy out for a win. Hopefully I’ll be in this series for years and years and that same situation is going to come about and hopefully when the tables are turned, he’s going to race me the same way. I’m proud to be racing Jimmie."
The runner-up finish pulled Hamlin back in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" race. He's in fourth place and trails leader Matt Kenseth by only 37 points.
"I think we’re right back in it," he said. "Now it just makes you kick yourself for all those points you lost on the other races but that’s just part of it and everyone is dealing with it. We’ve got to march on and do the best we can. I feel like right now we’re championship material."