Hamlin Toughs It Out

Denny Hamlin stayed in the car for the entire race, and 10 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, drove home to a 30th-place finish in Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Despite having Casey Mears standing by as back-up, Hamlin was able to drive the entire 378 laps Saturday night in what he felt was a statement performance for his Joe Gibbs Racing team.

"I was going to do all I could do," Hamlin said. "I reached a point, probably 160 laps in, I looked at the scoreboard to see how much more time I had to stay in there and that's about the time we went about two laps down.

"I knew that if I got out of the car, I was going to hear all kinds of stuff from everyone else saying I gave up on the team. That's one thing I'm not going to do is give up on these guys. It didn't matter if I knew we weren't going to gain one more position today, and I knew it once we went two laps down. I felt like it was important for me to be in that car."

Unfortunately for Hamlin he was never able to be in position to come home with a competitive finish. He was caught up in a Lap 15 accident with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch that damaged his car and hurt his chances at a decent finish.

He finished 30th, gaining only 73 points for his effort.

"We weren't going to gain anything by staying in there," Hamlin said. "The only thing I was going to gain was maybe some respect of the team guys just because I knew our day was shot to hell.

"I wasn't going to give up on them. I wasn’t going to lay down on them. To be honest with you, I would have been too embarrassed to give Casey the car I had today. It's not what we're accustomed to."

Through it all Hamlin said he was pleased with being able to endure the test and feels it was an important reflection of what teamwork is all about.

"Through thick and thin, we're a team," he said. "I feel like they'd give their left leg for me and do everything they could do to make sure we were successful and I felt like it was my duty and my job and that's what I'm hired to do, try to do the best I can and keep this team as good as we can."

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