Hamlin’s shoulder passes first test

Denny Hamlin felt no worse for the wear after competing — and winning — in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum just two months removed from shoulder surgery.

“It is very good,” Hamlin said Saturday night. “We knew that this race was going to fatigue it a little bit. Adrenaline is such a factor. Like last year even though it was really, really bad, adrenaline once you get in the car, it’s a lot different.

“But overall, it feels better than I thought it would, considering how far you have to crank the wheel at this racetrack. But the race is just short enough to fatigue it a little bit, so when I get to Daytona, I’ll be nice and strong.”


Hamlin had surgery arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Nov. 22 for a bone spur issue. After the surgery, however, Hamlin was informed his shoulder was worse than expected, and so the recovery would be longer than expected. Initially, Hamlin cast doubt on his availability for the Busch Light Clash, but the concern dissipated as the event drew closer.

Saturday, Hamlin qualified on the pole and made the winning pass on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs with 10 laps to go. The mobility of Hamlin’s shoulder was not an issue behind the wheel as it was late in 2023 dealing with the injury and further aggravating it in the playoffs.

Hamlin does expect a few more months before it’s a non-issue, although he’s been able to start doing simulator work and other preparation for the season. It was normal aching for Hamlin after competing for the first time post-surgery.

“When I do PT, it aches the next day, as well,” Hamlin said. “It’s all just part of getting better and stronger, and I found while running the sim that this race was far more strenuous than a Las Vegas or a Daytona will be.

“I think we’ve kind of passed the test that we’re going to be good to go to start the season, and it’s certainly not going to be a factor for the 11 car.”


Story originally appeared on Racer