The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 5, 2014

NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin joins Greenbrier family

By Cam Huffman
Sports Editor

— The Greenbrier family already includes an NBA icon (Jerry West), a golf legend (Tom Watson), one of the all-time tennis greats (Pete Sampras) and one of golf’s hottest players (Bubba Watson) — not to mention the entire New Orleans Saints football team. It’s newest addition will bring some horsepower to the group.

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin sent out his “birth announcement” Thursday on Twitter, saying, “Happy to be a part of the @The_Greenbrier family alongside @bubbawatson and NBA Legend #JerryWest!” and then he made a grand entrance onto the scene driving his No. 11 Toyota Camry around the circle in front of the entrance to the historic resort, spinning his tires in the process.

The 33-year-old Chesterfield, Va., native, who drives the FedEx sponsored car for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, is building a house on the property, joining West and Watson, who was in White Sulphur Springs this week to see his recently-completed home, as a member of The Greenbrier Sporting Club.

“He’s been coming here for two or three years, and he loves the golf and loves the hotel,” said Greenbrier owner Jim Justice. “He finally decided to buy a lot and build a home.

“He fell in love with The Greenbrier, which is easy to do.”

Hamlin — who spent Thursday shooting a commercial and then playing a round of golf on the Old White TPC with Bubba Watson — has been running Sprint Cup races for 10 years and has 24 wins and 140 top 10 finishes under his belt. He finished second in the race for the Sprint Cup Championship in 2010, and he was the 2006 Nextel Cup Series Rookie of the Year. He’s currently ninth in the points race after winning at Talladega in May.

Justice hopes West Virginians will embrace Hamlin as one of their own, just as they did when Bubba Watson won his second Masters in April.

“He’s a really, really good young man,” said Justice, who admitted he loves the exposure that these big-name athletes bring to The Greenbrier. “If you get to know him, he’s infectious. He has a bubbly personality.”

Hamlin will wear The Greenbrier logo on the sleeve of his race suit beginning with this weekend’s Pocono 400 in Long Pond, Pa.

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.