Denny Hamlin started the year stating that he wouldn’t get the surgery for the torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in January while playing basketball.
However, there’s been a change in plans. On Monday, he will be getting the surgery.
“When we first reviewed the situation, we thought Denny couldn’t do any further damage to his knee if he waited to have surgery, but as the season progressed we determined that the best plan of action was to go ahead and have it repaired,” Joe Gibbs Racing team president J.D. Gibbs said in a statement. “Hopefully this will take care of the situation and he should get stronger each week.”
Hamlin said on Saturday that the surgery had to be done regardless of where he was in points, as his knee has buckled several times and caused him to sustain further damage.
“We were doing further damage to the knee and to me it’s not something that’s worth suffering forever or having a permanent limp.” Hamlin said.
He plans to make every start following the surgery, and in case he can’t finish the whole race, he’ll have Casey Mears standing by to relieve him.
Casey Mears had a six-race deal with Keyed-Up Motorsports and has only made one of the races that he’s attempted to qualify for.
Though Hamlin did add that, “If they can just pry me in that seat, they’ll have a tough time prying me out.”
He chose to have the surgery on Monday. Having it then, he believes, will leave him enough time to heal up a little and be ready for Phoenix.
He says it’ll be a relief for finally have the surgery and know that everyday after, despite the pain, he’s at least getting better.
Hamlin went on to say that he’s optimistic that he’d be 100 percent by Chase time. Though if Hamlin doesn’t make the chase this year, don’t be blaming it on the surgery.
“It’s not going to change our goals,” he said. “If we don’t get in [the Chase], then it has to do with a lot of performance over the year, not just [the first few races after the surgery].”
Hamlin will start 19th on Sunday in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
EDIT 3-28-2010: Thanks to David Newton and Jeff Gluck for the quotes towards the story.