NASCAR Notebook: Hamlin was emotionally invested in Watson's Masters win
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Denny Hamlin and Masters champion Bubba Watson aren't exactly birds of a feather, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and the PGA Tour golfer have enough in common to form the basis of a fast friendship.
Hamlin and Watson met in Phoenix in 2010, when, by prearrangement, they played nine holes together after a Cup practice. Watson is a race fan, and both he and Hamlin are devotees of the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard."
Watson, in fact, bought one of the signature "General Lee" cars used in the filming of the show and was all set to drive a parade lap at Phoenix International Raceway in February -- until NASCAR and track officials put a stop the plan because of the Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof of the car.
If Hamlin and Watson share an interest in racing and in golf, which Hamlin plays avidly, the differences between the two are striking. Hamlin is single and isn't averse to a good time. He has talked openly about wagering sums of money that would dwarf a typical worker's annual salary.
Watson, on the other hand, is a family man and a devout evangelical Christian, but the differences between the two men hasn't stopped them from forming a bond that has only strengthened over the last two years.
Watson asked Hamlin to caddie for him during last week's Par-3 Competition at Augusta National Golf Club. Hamlin obliged. Hamlin also procured a fire suit for Watson to use when he drives the General Lee -- and has a matching helmet on the way.
"Basically, he expressed that he was looking for a fire suit and a helmet to match his car," Hamlin said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "And I said 'Well, I can work on that and get that done.' So he went and got his measurements done and I sent that fire suit to him, and, obviously, he was very excited about that.
"He's still waiting on his helmet. I think that's coming. He said if he's going to drive around the General Lee, he's got to have the full outfit. He's not going to do it halfway."
Needless to say, Hamlin was rooting for his friend when Watson tied Louis Oosthuizen on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday and won The Masters on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
"I was just generally nervous for him on Sunday," Hamlin said. "It was just one of those days where you are proud to be someone's friend. It's no different than when I was watching J. (Jason) White in a truck race with two laps to go with a chance to win.
"I'm nervous because it's my friend and you hope that the guy does well. It's just a great feeling. I felt like I won it myself."
NASCAR ADDS C-POST TEMPLATE
There's no longer a gray area where the C-posts on the Sprint Cup car on concerned.
The area of the car that earned Jimmie Johnson and his team severe penalties at Daytona--sanctions that were largely overturned on appeal--now will be covered by a new template that NASCAR will introduce for the May 6 Cup event at Talladega.
Beyond that, the new template will be incorporated into NASCAR's inspection process for all races.
The C-posts on Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet failed opening-day inspection at Daytona, having been shaped in a way NASCAR felt might give the car an aerodynamic advantage. The sanctioning body subsequently fined crew chief Chad Knaus $100,000, suspended him and car chief Ron Malec for six races each and docked Johnson 25 championship points and car owner-of-record Jeff Gordon 25 owner points.
All but the fine and probation for Knaus and Malec were overturned on appeal by NASCAR's chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook.
Johnson maintained that Middlebrook's ruling showed that the offending C-posts (which connect the back of the roof to the rear deck lid) were legal. NASCAR president Mike Helton took the opposite tack, citing the upholding of the fine as proof that the inspectors did their jobs correctly.
Now there won't be an issue, with the introduction of a template that covers the area in question. To Johnson, it's something of a mixed blessing, though he's in favor of the change.
"I'm very happy to hear there will not be a gray area there, but it does take away opportunities to work on the race car," Johnson said. "But that's been a reality we've been faced with; especially crew chiefs have been faced with for quite some time now. I'm absolutely happy to hear there is going to be (a template) there."
BEARD'S COMMENTS SURPRISE EDWARDS
Revelations in Amanda Beard's recently released memoir "In the Water They Can't See You Cry" portray Edwards as self-centered, controlling and interested only in his own racing career.
Beard, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and Edwards dated in 2005-2006, a period Beard discusses in a small section of her 349-page book.
"He never asked me what I might like to do, because he only wanted to be on Carl time," Beard wrote. "He couldn't imagine any other kind of time."
In other passage, Beard describes Edwards' negative reaction when she told the driver she had tried cocaine. Edwards is at the vanguard among NASCAR drivers when it comes to physical training and conditioning.
Those assertions came as a surprise to Edwards, who discussed the issue during his Friday media availability at Texas.
"I didn't realize she had all those problems," Edwards said. "I would have done anything in the world to have helped her with those, and, as always -- regardless of what she writes in her books and things like that -- if she ever needs anything from me, I'll be there to help her out. I don't know what else to say about that."
Edwards married Dr. Kate Downey in 2009. Together they have two children. Edwards said he has always considered Beard a friend.
"Somebody told me a long time ago that she was going to write a book, and I thought, 'Good for her -- that's awesome,' " Edwards said. "All the correspondence we've ever had between 2006 and now has all been good. Like I said, I consider us friends.
"I want to be very clear. I'm not standing up here . . . I'm not going to bash her. I'm not going to say bad things about her, because I didn't know all that stuff was going on. She's a mother, she's a wife (having married photographer Sacha Brown), and she's someone that I cared about.
"Like I said, if, down the road, she ever needs something from me, she's got it."