Hamlin talks about knee injury, plans to wait for surgery

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing driver #11-Denny Hamlin was made available to the media at Richmond International Raceway, some of the Q&A's:

Q) What happened when you were playing basketball to get injured and what is the pain like inside the car?
Hamlin: "In the car I'm as comfortable as any place that I am. Obviously the swelling is the biggest issue. It hurts mobility and it kind of shuts down my quad so there's challenges there. But, in the car we ran 15 or 20 consecutive laps which isn't a whole lot but it was fine then. And, what I was doing I was just playing. I play in a league every week and it was just the exact same scenario as it was the first time. I had actually felt that I jarred it earlier in the game and unfortunately I tied the game up with five seconds to go and so it went to overtime and I hurt it in overtime."

What are you allowed to do and not allowed to do as a driver outside the track and what is the toughest part of the injury?
Hamlin: "I can do anything I want, just don't break the law. There's really no provisions or anything like that. I think Joe (Gibbs) does a good job of letting us be whoever we want to be outside the race car. My activities really aren't that dangerous that I do. It just seems like I have had some freak accidents over the last few years that's gotten us, but I don't think there's been anything that's kept us from being competitive on the race track. The one time I missed the Chase was from an injury that happened on the race track so I don't think that these side injuries have hurt our performance at all. So, I mean, I'm just going to continue to do whatever it is I want to do outside the car and obviously just try to better prepare yourself and get physically stronger to typically prevent injuries in the future. Other than that, won't change much."

Q) Are you risking damaging your knee more the next 11 weeks by not having the surgery immediately?
Hamlin: "I think with that off-week (last time) we had a buffer there of time to recover. I had moments outside the race car where I had buckling moments where my knee would give out and I felt like I was doing more extensive damage to it. So, we had the off-week to play with earlier in the year so we decided to do it then. We don't have that luxury this time around especially with the Chase coming up next week so I think that the best thing to do is just hold off and make sure we're 100 percent in the car and if I'm what I feel like is 100 percent now in the car just three days after then the next 10 weeks I've just got to be real careful outside the car making sure I pay attention to every step so I don't have those moments again. But, it looked like from what the MRI showed it was really I've damaged the same things that I damaged on the left. There was obviously the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) – the ACL gets all of the hype but there's more to it that gets knocked around in there."

Q) Could you have had the surgery this week and sought an exemption to take Richmond off before for the Chase?
Hamlin: "Well, I thought about it but I think that we were pretty confident that doing the surgery or not doing the surgery either way I would be the same inside the car. So, why skip a week if I'm going to end up being the same anyway. It's really just to improve life outside the car. Obviously I'm going to go through the next 10 weeks and can't do any running or can't do anything active for the next 10 to 11 weeks so that part of it sucks but other than that there just isn't a benefit to do it right now especially you don't know how you're going to react recovery-wise. I thought I was pretty lucky the last time around. I was back playing basketball really within seven months or so which is pretty fast for an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). And you just don't know how your body will react to the second one so I think it was safer for us to just let it go. There are people that live without ACL's all of the time and walk around and you never know the difference. It's more the other activities that it hampers you with. I thought the smarter thing would be to just fix it when we're done with the season."

Do you have any limitations with your knee and what was the shot that you hit in the basketball game to tie the game?
Hamlin: "I don't have any limitations other than I can't fully walk on my own. I think I'm probably about a day or maybe two away from maybe ditching the extra crutch to walk around, so I think I'll get rid of that tomorrow. But other that I've got to start rehabbing as quick as possible to make sure that I can get my leg working properly so I can walk without having those buckling moments like I had in 2010. I'll work on that. What shot was it – just drove into the lane and made a layup."

If you got eliminated from the Chase would you have the surgery earlier?
Hamlin: "Good idea, I'll take your advice and use it as motivation to not get it done. Actually had not even thought about being eliminated, that's how confident I am right now that we're not going to. If we do, I don't know. You want to finish the year strong and I think the way the points all work out you still can move up to fifth or something like that. I think either way, off-season is going to be the best option as long as I can make it that long." Toyota Racing

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