Denny Hamlin, competing with a torn ACL, became the first driver to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory was the 26th of Hamlin’s career, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen for 27th on the all-time list.
No matter where Hamlin finishes in the next two Challenger Round races, he automatically transfers to the Contender Round, which contains races at Charlotte, Kansas and Talladega.
Maybe more impressive than Hamlin’s win is the bet he won with arguably the fiercest competitor in sports – his pal Michael Jordan.
After the race, Hamlin explained:
“Well, I know one thing for sure. The first thing I’m going to do is text Michael Jordan. He texted me on Wednesday. He said he was in Monte-Carlo. I popped in his head like I always do, which I thought was a little odd. He says, I know you’re about to head into the playoffs. I just want you to know I’ve never admitted to anybody that anyone is better than me at anything my whole life. But if you win this race this weekend, I will admit that you’re a better driver than I am.
“I thought, Wow! That would be awesome. I just thought of that just now. So the first thing I’m going to do is text him and say, ‘Admit it, I’m better than you, and I want everyone to know.’”