|Denny Hamlin prepares to race 2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey
during a visit to the|
FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday. Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
Denny Hamlin is used to racing against the big dogs in the Sprint Cup Series. But earlier this week in Alaska, he raced with some actual big dogs.
After Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Sonoma, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing jetted off to the Land of the Midnight Sun. On Monday, Hamlin met more than 1,000 FedEx employees from across Alaska at the FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage.
FedEx's motto is "Every day is race day," and for Hamlin that would turn out to be true. While at the FedEx facility, Hamlin met reigning Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. After signing autographs for the employees, the two took the action to the parking lot.
Seavey taught Hamlin a quick lesson in the sport of dogsled racing, or mushing. Then the two racers duked it out on a 100-yard course. Hamlin won the first of three races, with Seavey winning the last two.
“It was a lot of fun. Dallas was great to us,” Hamlin said about competing against the Iditarod champion.
Hamlin, 31, was in awe of Seavey, who at 25 became the youngest musher to win the heralded 975-mile event.
|Hamlin, left, chats with Seavey
during Monday's event in |
Anchorage, Alaska. Credit: Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
The trip was Hamlin’s first to Alaska. In addition to the thrill of dogsled racing, Hamlin will remember the smiles of the FedEx employees who welcomed him.
“It was a great experience,” Hamlin said. “I had never been to Alaska before up until this past weekend, but got a chance to visit the Anchorage hub. There's 1,300 FedEx employees at that hub and greeted all of them with smiles and they just had a great time.”
FedEx has sponsored Hamlin since his entry into the Sprint Cup Series in 2005. Hamlin has participated in a lot of sponsor events since then, but this one gave him an opportunity to reach out to an area not normally on NASCAR’s radar.
“Living in Anchorage, Alaska, they don't get to see a whole lot of racing, nor do they get to see their driver too often. So it was a very exciting time for them,” Hamlin said.
Will a return trip to America’s 49th state be on Hamlin’s itinerary in the future? The driver hopes so.
“It almost feels like a different country that you're in,” he said. “…We were only up there for 24 hours and whatnot. So I didn't get to see all of the things that I would love to see about it.
“So (I) have to make another trip up there to get to experience it, because Alaska, the wilderness and the glaciers and all is what makes Alaska what it is.”