Denny Hamlin Stops at Virginia Tech Football Practice

Denny Hamlin Stops at Virginia Tech Football Practice

Denny Hamlin and Hokie Bird

Denny Hamlin and the Hokie Bird get together in Coach Frank Beamer's office.

DENNY HAMLIN STOPS AT VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES FOOTBALL PRACTICE BEFORE CONTINUING ON THE “ROAD TO RICHMOND”

Hamlin Declares Richmond International Raceway the Best Track for “One Last Race to Make the Chase”

August 21, 2009--NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin enjoyed the experience of a lifetime yesterday by helping Virginia Tech Hokies head football coach Frank Beamer instruct practice in Blacksburg.

Hamlin traded in his firesuit for a personalized #11 Hokies jersey and assisted the coaching staff by sending in plays to the offense during practice.  Hamlin also was joined by Richmond International Raceway president and Virginia Tech graduate Doug Fritz for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Virginia Tech facilities, including a walk on Worsham Field at Lane Stadium, visiting the locker room and equipment room, and checking out the suites high atop the football field.

“This is definitely a great day for me,” said Hamlin, who is currently fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.  “I’m a huge Hokies fan and I’ve always been a huge Hokies fan.  Not only that, but meeting with Frank Beamer—his character is second to none. To come out here and see these guys getting prepared for the season, I know how that feels.”

One of the highlights of the day was Coach Beamer introducing Hamlin in front of the entire #7-ranked team.  Hamlin spoke to the team briefly before receiving an authentic #11 Virginia Tech jersey with his name on the back.  Hamlin reciprocated by giving Coach Beamer—a frequent visitor at Richmond International Raceway—a race-worn firesuit, which the coach proudly wore in front of the team.  After a slight struggle to suit up, the team responded with an ovation for their leader.

Hamlin must now prepare for the “Road to Richmond,” which culminates on Saturday, September 12 for “One Last Race to Make the Chase”—the Chevy Rock & Roll 400—at Richmond International Raceway.  With more drivers than Chase spots up for grabs, this could be one of the most exciting cutoff races since the inception of the Chase format.

“We have 15 or 16 credible guys who could win the championship,” said Hamlin.  “That is what the whole (Chase) format was put together for—to have that exciting Race to the Chase come Richmond time and you just couldn’t have a better race track to have that.  You have a short track that races like a big track.  Guys can’t get away from each other.  It’s the most exciting race, in my opinion, all year long.” 

“Richmond is shaping up to be a pretty exciting race,” said Hamlin.  “You’re going to have about five guys going for two or three spots.  It’s going to be amazing to see how that plays out.  Last year I was one of those guys who had to kinda race my way in there at Richmond.  So I know how that feels and I’m glad we can go to Richmond this year and not have to worry about racing our way in to the Chase.  We can go out there and just concentrate on winning. We actually had a meeting about Richmond two weeks ago.  We feel like that’s a place we can get bonus points and get a win and my crew chief knows how much it means (to try to win at Richmond).”

Hamlin also stressed that he would be in attendance for the Virginia Tech opener versus the University of Alabama on Saturday, September 5, in Atlanta.

“It works out perfect because we’ll be in Atlanta. I thought about running the Nationwide Series race that night, but then I saw Tech was going to be playing, so my plans changed.  I’ll definitely be in the stands to support my Hokies.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400—“One Last Race to Make the Chase.” Once the checkered flag drops, only the top 12 drivers in the point standings will be eligible for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.  With several drivers looking to race their way into the top 12 in Richmond, this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting races of the season.  Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased by logging on to www.rir.com or calling 866-455-RACE (7223).

The weekend begins on Friday, September 11, featuring the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Friday’s ticket includes practice and Fas Mart Pole Qualifying for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, as well as practice and WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.  Friday’s tickets are $45 (reserved) and $35 (general admission) in advance. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections on Friday only.  For tickets and information, log on to www.rir.com or call 866-455-RACE (7223).

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