Even with back spasms that put his availability in doubt, Denny Hamlin endured to win the Cheez-It 355 Sunday at Watkins Glen International. That it was his first on a road course added to the accomplishment, as the 35-year-old needed treatment pre-race and wondered if he could compete on the physically demanding seven-turn, 2.45-mile track.
Hamlin merely racing is a testament to his perseverance. Doing so at a high level only adds to the accomplishment. But had he not been able to answer the bell, another Toyota driver would have just taken their turn in victory lane. That’s seemingly how it goes for Toyota, which has seen its two flagship teams, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, combine to win 11 of 22 races this season and lead 57 percent of all laps.