Every time Denny Hamlin
(below) hit the brakes with his left foot on Monday at Martinsville, he felt a jolt of pain in his left knee. He'd torn his ACL in late January playing pickup basketball and had hoped to delay surgery until after the season. But he recently tore the meniscus in the same knee, forcing him to schedule surgery for this week. The wounded knee didn't slow Hamlin in the Battle of Martinsville, however, as he drove aggressively throughout and moved from fourth to first over the final two laps to win his first race of 2010. He was scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday and plans to be behind the wheel at the next Cup race, at Phoenix on April 10. Will the surgery dash Hamlin's title hopes? To judge by his gutty performance on Monday, no way.