On September 8 while playing basketball, Denny Hamlin suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his right knee. Despite the injury, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has committed to running the rest of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule as he is one of the 16 drivers that will be chasing after the championship.
Speaking with the media ahead of this weekend’s event at Chicagoland Speedway, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry said the knee feels good at this point in time.
“I’m walking a little bit more normal now, so everything’s good and everything should be good in the car as well,” he stated.
For Hamlin, the plan is to complete the season and then have surgery done following the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think you don’t have to have it, but I think most people do especially if you want to stay active and run again you have to,” he said. “So, yeah, I’ll wait until the end of the season and make sure I’ve got plenty of time after Homestead to heal and then let it have plenty of time before Daytona.”
He stated, though, that he has started physical therapy in “trying to get as strong as I can now that way going into that way when I come out the recovery should be shorter.”
The race at Richmond International Raceway last weekend marked his first event since injuring the knee, in which he said post-race, he felt just as he thought it would.
“I’m a week out now and I feel like it’s probably a little bit better than it was the first time around,” he commented. “I think I had two or three weeks between the start of the season and my ACL tear last time. I hadn’t had to race on no ACL this quick. It hurts outside the car and it doesn’t hurt really inside.”
Looking ahead, Hamlin feels that he should be able to get through the rest of the year with ease, but admits that Talladega Superspeedway with the biggest challenge due to having to hold the throttle open the longest, versus getting breaks at other track where you get out of throttle.
“But I’ve driven many, many laps at Talladega anyway with my left foot hung over there pushing the gas down because your leg falls asleep there anyway holding the gas down so much,” he added.
With certainty, he hopes it doesn’t slow him down that much as he enters this year’s Chase with momentum on his side, posting a top-six finish in each of the last four races.