if denny hamlin’s win wasn’t emotional for you too, then you’ve got problems

(Left to right) Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs congratulates Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, on Monday after Hamlin's fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 and third at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)Because the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono was postponed from Sunday until Monday because of rain I couldn’t watch it live, on TV, from the comfort of my home. Since I was at work, I casually kept track of what was happening by using ESPN’s race widget in between doing work and sitting in meetings.

Once the race was over and I found out that Denny Hamlin had won I was stoked. Really, I was happy for him more than anything just because it had been what, 58 races since he’d last won a Sprint Cup race? So yes, this was a big deal, and like I’ve said before, I like the Denny. :)

It wasn’t long after I learned of Denny’s win that I received a text message from Tara, a young woman from Arizona who reads my blog and is one of the biggest Denny Hamlin fans around. She even won tickets to a race at Phoenix by professing her reasons why Denny is her favorite driver. Tara told me that she watched the final laps of the race while having lunch at T.G.I. Friday’s with her grandmother.

“I was seriously crying my eyes out,” said Tara. “Me and my grandma were holdin’ hands like the last 5 laps and cheerin’. You celebrate your drivers’ victories, and you share their sorrow. I’m so proud of my driver, no matter what. And I always will.”

Last night I finally saw Denny’s tearful Victory Lane interview and I couldn’t help but cry myself. Tara’s words added extra impact, because now I was finally seeing what she had seen and so I totally got why she was crying in the middle of T.G.I. Friday’s. :)

It’s easy for people to say, well of course you’d be emotional if a family member passed on, but I think we all know people out there that aren’t like that. While I was happy for Denny for the win, and the fact that I’m sure his grandmother was looking down on him with pride in that moment, it just made your heart break to see his emotion. His relationship with his grandmother and his mother obviously means the world to him.

You don’t see drivers crying in Victory Lane that often, and I think Denny should be praised for feeling his emotions and letting them out. I don’t want to get all “New Age-y” and stuff but it’s true. Too often boys are told to hold their emotions in, “Be a man,” and not let things out. That’s the worst thing, you have to feel what you’re feeling if you’re ever going to move on and grow as a human being. So I respect Denny for that. It was clear that even before the race started his grandmother’s death weighed heavy on his heart, and I just appreciate his honesty in explaining where his head was at that entire weekend and during the race itself.

Frankly I think it makes his win that much more interesting, how you can win with all of that in your head is just amazing to me. If you take out all of the emotions, it was a great race period, he made an awesome move on Clint Bowyer in those late laps.

So, congratulations to Denny and the No. 11 FedEx team on a much deserved win. My heart and condolences go out to Denny and his family.


(Left to right) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, grabs Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Old Spice Swagger Chevrolet, as the two joked in the Pocono Raceway garage Friday before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I bet this was the result of Tony refusing to wear a “Chad is Rad” T-shirt, in honor of Jimmie’s crew chief Chad Knaus. :)

(Left to right) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, grabs Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Old Spice Swagger Chevrolet, as the two joked in the Pocono Raceway garage Friday before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Left to right) Raybestos Rookie of the Year Contenders Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, and Scott Speed, driver of the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota, meet the media on Friday at Pocono Raceway during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 race weekend. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Uhm, I’m sure they’re BFFs. :)

(Left to right) Raybestos Rookie of the Year Contenders Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, and Scott Speed, driver of the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota, meet the media on Friday at Pocono Raceway during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 race weekend. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A Jimmie Johnson fan takes a picture of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars as they roll out from the garage and onto the track Saturday during practice at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. for Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The littlest Jimmie Johnson fan! So cute.

A Jimmie Johnson fan takes a picture of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars as they roll out from the garage and onto the track Saturday during practice at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. for Sunday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger walk through the garage after the drivers meeting for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Left to right) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger walk through the garage after the drivers meeting for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

7 Comments

  1. August 4, 2009 at 8:05 PM ·

    That last photograph is too cute…it as if they are afraid to get their feet wet.

    I admit I am not a Denny Hamlin fan, frankly, I can’t stand him and I was not excited to see him win. However, after watching the post-race interview, and yes I was in tears myself, I let it slide. I had totally forgotten about his grandmother’s passing until that moment, or rather the moment he crossed the finish line. (Granted most of that was due to the fact that I wasn’t watching the race live until the last few laps b/c I had to transfer my grandfather to his daily doctor’s appointment.) I didn’t feel bad for not wanting him to win, that’s the non-DH fan and pro-KK fan in me, but it was ok. (Like me saying it’s ok makes a difference.) I knew it was meant for him to win. As he said, he had angels helping out. I’ll let him have this one…but no more (*wink*).

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time. I know no one likes going through this time.

  2. August 4, 2009 at 8:07 PM ·

    I didn’t see Denny’s victory lane until this morning at work because someone (me) dvr’d the wrong station (thank goodness for youtube). And I was sitting in my office practically bawling my eyes out first thing. I just wanted to hug him and cry with him!

    Regarding Jimmie and Tony: WTH was going on there?? Looks like Jimmie is either trying to arrest Tony or play pin the tail on the driver…LOL.

  3. Jsmie
    August 5, 2009 at 7:24 AM ·

    I am a BIG Denny fan. I was lucky enough to be able to watch the race monday and the last 30 or so laps I was cheering my heart out for my driver. I was working (I work from home) and it was so hard to concentrate on work while the race was going on.
    When Denny got to VL I was already in tears. Denny has been my favorite since he was in Busch, er, now Nationwide. I’m on cloud 9, er, 11, when he wins. His win monday was awesome!
    My thoughts and prayers go out to the Hamlin family. Its one of the hardest things in the world to deal with when you lose a family member, but somehow we keep going…..

  4. Phoenyx
    August 5, 2009 at 11:01 AM ·

    In all honesty, I’m not a huge Denny Hamlin fan. There’s been times over the past few years where I couldn’t stand him. However, at the beginning of the season I wiped the slate clean with all my grudges against all drivers so I’ve been neutral on him. I don’t follow him, so I didn’t know his grandmother had passed away.

    I admit it, I got a little ticked off at him for wrecking Reutimann.

    At the beginning of the race I was even kinda cheering for him. But then Clint Bowyer had the lead and that is who I REALLY wanted to see win. However, Denny was the class of the field (wrecking Reutimann aside), and he made a clean pass for the win.

    That being said, I was tearing up big time during his victory lane interview. Most of us ordinary mortals can take bereavement time off when a close family member passes away, but he really had to be in the car. I feel for him.

    LOVE the pic of Jimmie & Tony! And that pic of Logano’s expression at Speed is priceless!

  5. Deb
    August 5, 2009 at 2:03 PM ·

    Hi,
    I too saw the final laps of Monday’s race and Denny’s raw emotion. Listening to him brought back emotions of my grandmother’s passing this year. I like Denny wasn’t able to be there for my family during the most heartbreaking time of their life and I feel for him because to this day it still sticks with you.
    My heart goes out to Denny and his family.

  6. fayanne
    August 6, 2009 at 1:49 PM ·

    I stayed off Google all day Monday not wanting to hear the results so I could watch the tivo when I got home. I sat there in my apt. just tearing up and crying along with Denny. It wasn’t even that he won, it was that raw emotion he showed which made him much more of a man in my eyes. When they showed him in the car as he took his helmet off my heart broke. And when he tried to speak when he got out he could barely do it. Great job Denny at an incredibly sad time for you. My thoughts and prayers are with Denny and his family.

    And I really like the way you wrote this post…very touching, thanks.

  7. Sarah
    August 10, 2009 at 10:13 PM ·

    I am and always have been a huge Denny fan-I consider myself the biggest, but I’m sure there are plenty out there who consider themselves the biggest DH fan as well. I was so so happy to see him get a win. My 23 month old son and I were cheering and screaming and jumping up and down. And then I started bawling before I even saw Denny in VL because I immediately thought of what was going through his head. I knew he had to be overcome with emotion. The emotion he showed made me respect him even more than I already did. Like you mentioned in your post you rarely ever see a Nascar driver cry (I honestly don’t think I ever have) and for him not to care what everyone thought shows me what a kind and caring person he really is. At the same time it just goes to show what an awesome driver he is if he could win while going through such heartbreak. My thoughts and prayers are with Denny and his family during this difficult time for them. I really love reading your blog-I can’t get enough of it! This post really made me smile because you don’t find too many people writing about the good side of Denny Hamlin. Thank you! :)

    People can say what they will about Denny, but I am and forever will be a Denny fan!! :)