Yes, Denny Hamlin is sore. But not, at least not entirely, about the way things ended for him Saturday night in Richmond, Va.
Hamlin was limping a little during a two-day Sprint Cup test that wrapped up Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He fell on his hip during a pick-up basketball game Sunday.
"I'd like to say I was going up for a dunk, but everyone would know that's not true," Hamlin said. "When I went up, the person was lower than I was and I kind of clipped over his shoulder. I was horizontal to the ground and that was bad on the way down."
Flat on the ground was no way to be at Richmond, either. After leading 381 laps in the Dan Lowry 400, Hamlin's dominant Toyota suffered a flat tire and he tasted one of the biggest letdowns he hopes he'll ever have to face.
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"It was almost non-reality that we ran like we did," Hamlin said. "You don't say that you predict something like that will happen, but it's just a situation where it doesn't surprise you when something like that does happen. In the past when guys have cars like that, they usually don't win because something happens at the end.
"With our team, we've had dominant cars and been dominating races and just not finished them. ... Over the last couple of years, we could have as many wins as anyone right now. We just didn't have that luck at the end that we needed."
A year ago, Hamlin suffered a similar setback at Darlington Raceway. He led 179 laps before two dropped lug nuts on a late pit stop dumped him back into the pack. He fought back to finish second.
Then there was Bristol, earlier this year, when Hamlin led going into a green-white-checkered finish only to have a fuel pick-up issue cause his car to stumble on the restart and allow Jeff Burton to win.
As tough as those losses were, the heartbreak at Richmond was particularly bad for the driver who grew up in Chesterfield, Va., about 15 minutes from the track.
"Bristol was a hard pill to swallow," Hamlin said. "But, this was by far way worse."
Hamlin said he didn't come in as soon as he felt the tire going down Saturday because he hoped he could ride it out and get a caution flag. When he lost the tire, he was past the entrance to pit road.
"If I ran any kind of speed around the race track, I was going to drag the sway bar arm off," he said. "I didn't want to risk tearing up the car to where we couldn't finish the race. So, I knew I had to stop or else."
When Hamlin stopped in Turn 4, NASCAR threw a caution flag that allowed Kyle Busch to close on Dale Earnhardt Jr., setting up the contact between them that caused a stir.
Because Hamlin and Busch drive for the same team, and because of how things wound up with Busch running into Earnhardt Jr. with just more than two laps to go, some fans smelled a conspiracy.
"I didn't even know where Kyle was out on the race track," Hamlin said.