I’ve never been a great proponent of the old NASCAR (and indeed other sporting) cliché that you need to lose a championship before you can win one. I’ve always thought it was meant more as a salve, soothing the poor unfortunate who missed out rather than becoming a harbinger of what’s to come the following year. It seems, if you will, a little bit like a convenient excuse: a cop out to mask the sour stench of failure.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t need reminding of just how spectacularly Denny Hamlin’s 2010 bid for the championship derailed over the final two weeks of the season – how he genuinely lost a title that was well within his grasp. Even the Hamlin haters would find it hard to deny that the denouement of 2010 was ridiculously tough to take for the Chesterfield, Va. native. It doesn’t matter how close he pushed Double J, a man who has, for all intents and purposes, looked utterly unbeatable this last half-decade come Chase time. The bottom line is Hamlin had it, only to lose it; and that’s tough to take.