Mary Lou Hamlin posted on her Twitter account a photo of an essay her son wrote when he was a seven-year-old schoolboy.
"My wish is to win the Daytona 500," Denny wrote. "If I won the Daytona 500 I would like it to come true on Feb. 17, 1998."
Hamlin would have been aged 17 years on that date, and while he had to wait 18 years longer than he wanted, his persistence was rewarded when crossed the finish line 1/1000th of a second ahead of Martin Truex Jr.
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It was the 11th try for the driver of NASCAR number 11.
"This is the pinnacle of my career for sure. I don't have a championship yet, so this is the biggest win," said Hamlin, 35, who was in fourth position with one lap to go.
"I had no anticipations of winning this race on the white flag lap. I didn't know we had won. I knew it was close.
"I heard people on the radio crazy and excited and assumed we won at that point.
"If not, I was going to be pissed," he added with a hearty laugh.
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