RICHMOND, Va. — Last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was at Redskins camp and took a number of players for a ride in his 88 car around the Richmond Raceway. This year, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin brought his No. 11 car to Richmond and met with Redskins quarterback Alex Smith, who happens to also wear number 11.
Hamlin gave Smith a full racing suit and Smith presented Hamlin with his own No. 11 Redskins jersey with “Hamlin” on the back.
Hamlin drives for Joe Gibbs Racing and grew up a big Redskins fan. There is a picture on Gibbs’ desk of the coach and Hamlin when he was 12 years old. One of Hamlin’s prized possessions was a 1991 Super Bowl XXVI hat that had Gibbs’ signature.
He lost the hat when it blew out of a bus window.
Smith had another gift for Hamlin. He presented him with that same hat after practice on Tuesday. It doesn’t have Gibbs signature, but it won’t be a problem getting his boss to sign the new hat.
“Joe knows I lost the hat, he’s well aware,” said Hamlin.
As far as a favorite Redskins memory, Hamlin chose Super Bowl XXII.
“Probably the golden quarter against the Broncos,” he said. “I remember talking to Joe about it a little bit. [Gibbs] said it didn’t matter, I could have just closed my eyes and stuck my finger on a play and that play as going to work. For whatever reason, everything worked for that 15 minutes. It was just an unbelievable time and I remember going back and watching it. It was amazing football.”
The Redskins scored 35 points in that quarter, en route to a 42-10 Super Bowl victory.
Despite a busy calendar that takes him all over the country, Hamlin doesn’t let racing get in the way of keeping up with his favorite team.
“There may or may not be updates we get during the race,” he said. “Little code words to let me know (the) score and what’s going on. I’m a huge fan. This is my team, even though I live in Charlotte now. This is the team I always root for and always have. There’s a warm place in my heart for the Redskins.”