Hamlin Delivers - NASCAR Notes by Lugnut - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

NASCAR NOTES: Hamlin promises a win and delivers

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk - Pool/Getty Images for NASCAR Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk - Pool/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Brash predictions of victory are the stuff of sports legend.

You have Babe Ruth's called home run, Joe Namath's guaranteed Super Bowl win and now, there's Denny Hamlin's promised victory in last Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"There are many people that called their shot with championships ahead of me," said Hamlin on his bold statements. "I'm just a small, small little bug on the windshield."

After dominating the previous event in New Hampshire before a miscue in the closing laps resulted in a second place finish, Hamlin knew he had a good setup for the 1-mile oval. A victory would be sweet redemption and return his team to contender status in the 2012 Chase for the Nextel Cup.

"No track owes you anything," said Hamlin after his win. "You've got to go out there and you have to perform and you have to do it yourself."

Starting from the back of the field, Hamlin had to pass a lot of cars to get to the front of the pack. However, when you have a fast car, all it takes is patience.

"Darian obviously gave me a lightning-fast car today," explained Hamlin. "For me, my job was relatively easy. Just make sure that I didn't make any enemies on the way to the front."

Now Cup Series drivers are a prideful group and don't enjoy being shown up. Especially when a competitor is so bold as to predict victory days before the event began.

"You can't just call your shot and they are going to pull over and give the race to you," commented Hamlin on his fellow competitors. "They are going to drive harder knowing that you've said something like that."

With laps winding down and a commanding lead, Hamlin had things pretty much in hand until a late caution bunched the field. It was there where the young driver used his prediction as motivation to close the deal.

"For me that was the most nerve-wracking part," continued Hamlin. "Let's not find a way to lose, because I knew we had the fastest car today. You know, I've obviously got a great knack for this racetrack, it was extra motivation in my mind to prove myself right."

Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon tried to steal the win but just didn't have the car to compete with Hamlin's No. 11 team on the restart.

"He had a lot of speed in his car and seemed to be able to go when he needed to and wanted to," said Johnson on Hamlin's domination.

Johnson did move into the point lead with his second place finish but Hamlin is close behind in third place.

While the Joe Gibbs Racing driver can relish this week in making his prediction come true, he knows that there is a lot of racing left to go before we get to Homestead. If he can keep his team from feeling the pressure as in previous seasons, he might just make my pre-Chase prediction come true and capture his first NASCAR Cup Series title.

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