Hamlin has A-list advantage for championship race
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) Michael Jordan was one of Denny Hamlin's biggest fans in the pits, rooting on the NASCAR star as he fell short of winning the Sprint Cup championship.
Air Jordan still has a 6-0 edge in championship rings over Hamlin.
''I wish we could have been celebrating with him,'' Hamlin said. ''We'll have to wait another year for that.''
Hamlin is a Charlotte Hornets season-ticket holder and developed a friendship with the NBA team owner and basketball Hall of Famer. Jordan arrived at Hamlin's pit box via golf cart and watched the race like a true fan, complete with a scanner to follow all the action.
Kevin Harvick won Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the championship. Hamlin led 50 laps before fading to seventh.
''It's cool for him to take time out and come down here and show support,'' Hamlin said. ''He's a race fan. He's a huge race fan. When he came in the motorhome earlier today, he brought a big group with him and talked about how he's converted all these people into being race fans. He knows everybody and he knows the sport.''
Jordan, who won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, put in a ticket request with Hamlin's team.
''I told him we could do better than that,'' Hamlin said, smiling.
Hamlin had the A-list advantage in his NASCAR championship drive. Harvick had UFC fighter Donald ''Cowboy'' Cerrone and country singer Jake Owen in his corner.
Hamlin also tweeted a photo Saturday night of his meeting with rapper Lil Wayne. Hamlin was out Saturday night for a low-key 34th birthday party with family and friends on South Beach. Hamlin, wide-eyed in the photo for the late night, ran into the rapper and tweeted: ''Thanks for (at)LilTunechi for coming down and wishing us luck for tomorrow!! Bday dinner complete time for some sleep!''
Championship contender Ryan Newman wondered if Jordan, a noted Hanes pitchman, had a good-luck gift for Hamlin to wear under his firesuit.
''Did he bring some underwear for you,'' Newman asked.
''No,'' Hamlin said, laughing.