DAYTONA — Wishes really do come true. When Chesterfield native and Manchester High School graduate Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 Sunday, he fulfilled a childhood wish.
As an elementary school student at Grange Hall Elementary, Hamlin wrote he wished he would, one day, win the prestigious NASCAR race. Not one to throw out her son’s school work, Hamlin’s mother kept the assignment. She shared it on Faceook.
“Denny wrote this in elementary school and I held on to it for all these years,” Mary Lou Clark Hamlin posted on Facebook. “His lifelong goal and dream came true. Never give up on your dreams.”
My wish is to win the Daytona 500. If I won the Daytona 500 I would like it to come on Feb. 17, 1998.
My car would be a red, white, blue and gold just like Bill Eloittt’s [sic] car. If I do win the Daytona 500 I could win 1,000,000 dollars. My crew chief would be Cary Barden and my tire changer would be Emil Elloit.
The reason for all of this is because I love racing.
While some of Denny’s details were off, he got the important stuff correct.
Hamlin won the 2016 Daytona 500 Sunday in the closest finish in the history of the race. He entered the final lap in fourth place, but made a charge to the front, passing Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. Hamlin then won a head-to-head duel with Martin Truex Jr. Hamlin beat Truex to the finish line by six inches and 0.011 seconds.