Hamlin offers surprising theory on why he grew ill in Coke 600

Attempting to cap off his Sprint All-Star Race win by completing a sweep of the May Charlotte Motor Speedway races in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, Denny Hamlin was a contender throughout the event before ultimately finishing eighth.

But when the 400-lap, 600-mile race ended, Hamlin didn’t immediately head home. He went to the infield care center, after complaining of a migraine headache in the final 100 laps.

While Sunday’s race is the lengthiest on the NASCAR schedule and is a test of every driver’s stamina and strength, the weekend had been particularly long for Hamlin, who finished second in Saturday afternoon’s Hisense 300 XFINITY Series race and — as he revealed late Sunday night — took part in full day of activities on Friday when there were no cars on track.

"My off-day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match," said Hamlin, whose eighth-place finish came mostly as a result of several drivers being on a different pit strategy that allowed them to stretch their last tank of fuel the final 62 laps. "Probably overdid it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness that didn’t cost us the win. Just the bad end of that strategy and whatnot, but still proud of our FedEx Office team for really giving me a car that could contend for a win. This is a good sign."

After the race, which he led twice for a total of 53 laps, Hamlin also experienced soreness in one of his knees.

"It’s tough," the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota said. "I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead. You just try to power through it and, of course, when you run well you always feel a little bit better, but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop, you realize how bad you feel. A lot better now with fluids and everything. It was directly related to hydration."