NSCS: Denny Hamlin Talks His Knee, NASCAR Goes West,… The Bachelor?

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier

As Larry McReynolds would let everyone know, as of Thursday there are only 23 days until the Daytona 500. With the Daytona 500 only a few weeks away, Denny Hamlin is focusing on getting back to 100% before Daytona.

At the beginning of the off-season, Hamlin had surgery on his knee. Injuries aren’t anything new to Hamlin. Hamlin’s first ACL tear came in January of 2010 and had surgery on it just three months later. Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Hamlin did admit that the recovery from this surgery in the offseason is taking longer than the last.

“The range of motion has not been very good, and it’s kind of behind,” Hamlin said. “We’re catching up to being on schedule here. I’m very confident that in two weeks it’s going to be a non-issue on track, and really for me, it’s more like when can I start running again.”

Hamlin couldn’t compare this rehabilitation process to the one he had in 2010 other than by saying this one is “extensively worse.”

“The first one I used the cadaver and I needed to get back in the race car right away, so we did a cadaver and we didn’t use any parts of my hamstring or any other parts of my leg simply for recovery purposes,” he explained. “When players are out in football or basketball, they’re out for one year on an ACL, where we don’t have that time to recover.”

The Sprint Unlimited will be Hamlin’s first time on-track since Homestead, as Hamlin didn’t take part in any of Goodyear’s tire tests in the off-season, but Hamlin doesn’t believe his knee will be an issue, and also appears excited for the season. There’s good reason, as he comes off a season which saw him place ninth in the final standings and win two races. It was a good year all around for his Joe Gibbs Racing team as Kyle Busch earned his first Sprint Cup title, despite missing the first 11 races due to injury.

Perhaps one of the favorite parts of the season for the drivers over the last few years has been the West Coast swing happening at the beginning of the season. Of course, the Daytona 500 and Atlanta open the season, but following that, NASCAR heads to Las Vegas followed by Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway for a three-week trip out west. Both the fans and the drivers seem to really enjoy it each year.

“NASCAR Goes West is a pretty important part of our season, even though it’s at the very beginning,” Hamlin said. “It kind of gives us an idea of where we’re at within our racing program.”

When fans think Denny Hamlin, likely the first few things to come to their mind are his talent behind the wheel, his love of playing basketball or his friendship with Michael Jordan, however, that might have all changed with a call into ABC reality show “The Bachelor” on Monday. Hamlin called into the show via skype while watching with his girlfriend, Jordan Fish.

“It was kind of an impromptu thing, calling into The Bachelor Live.  Obviously it was a great experience for my girlfriend and all of her friends. They appreciated it,” Hamlin said. “When people ask if I really watch it, I always say, ‘who doesn’t want to watch 25 women scratch and claw their way to one guy?’.”

Though putting the fun aside, there’s only one thing on his mind going into the year – bringing home Joe Gibbs Racing a championship trophy, something he’s been trying to accomplish since 2006.