MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Considering the way Sunday started for Denny Hamlin, a third-place finish in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 might have defied the omens from early in the day.
Hamlin was on the way to an early-morning appearance when the driver introduction stage, being hauled by a tractor, collided with the golf cart in which Hamlin was riding. The golf car was totaled, but Hamlin saw the accident coming and leaped out of the vehicle before the impact.
Before the race, Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota fell off its jack, forcing the team to do extra work to get it through inspection.
Considering that he also had to overcome a speeding penalty on his first pit stop, Hamlin’s eventual third-place finish might be considered a blessing, even though the handling of Hamlin’s car eroded over the final 100 laps.
“Yeah, I thought it was a great start of my day, for sure, getting wiped out on the golf cart, my car falling off the jack,” Hamlin said. “Eventually, the odds are that you’re going to have something go smooth. I thought as soon as we had that speeding penalty at the beginning, I knew I put ourselves back in a hole again.
“I knew patience is what we needed to exercise there. We got through the pack clean, which was good. There were a few close calls. But it was a tough start to the day, great middle, and blah ending.”
Though Hamlin escaped injury in the golf car accident, the vehicle was destroyed.
“Ever seen Big Foot (a monster truck) and those cars they set up for him to jump over?” Hamlin quipped. “We were the car. I saw it coming, jumped out of the cart. (Martinsville Speedway President) Clay Campbell is going to get a bill.”