Denny Hamlin hopes to be able to complete the full 500 miles at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, after surprisingly running the full distance last week at Phoenix while recovering from his knee-surgery.
The 29-year-old was expected to be replaced by stand-by driver Casey Mears at some point during last week's Sprint Cup race as Hamlin had been feeling some pain on his left knee, which had undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament only 10 days before. Against all odds, Hamlin went on to finish the event despite falling a couple of laps down early in the race due to electrical issues with his car. He was in a lot of pain after the 600-kilometer event, but he says he is feeling a lot better this weekend at Texas, where he is set to put less stress on his left knee, due to the lighter braking relative to Phoenix.
"It's feeling much better, really," said Hamlin about his knee. "It's still sore and I have a long way to go but I am definitely making progress. Unlike Phoenix where we had to use a ton of brake, Texas is much different, so I will expect to go the full distance, just as I did at Phoenix last weekend."
Hamlin admitted he considered jumping out of his car last weekend at some point but he felt he would have let down his team by doing so and decided to run all the way to the checkered flag.
"I definitely thought about it, especially when we went down a couple of laps and we knew it would be hard to get them back, but I never want to give up on anything and I wasn't going to give up on the team," said Hamlin. "They worked hard to get that car ready for me, they were patient with me and I owe to it to them to give it my best effort. That's as true when you are running up front as it is when you are struggling. It was actually an easy decision from the seat."
After finishing 30th last weekend at Phoenix, Hamlin currently ranks 18th in the points with one win to his name. He is set to start from 29th on the grid at Texas this weekend.