Harry C. Risher
Greensburg Daily News
Denny Hamlin will be sidelined for approximately six weeks with a back injury he sustained in a last-lap wreck in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in California.
Hamlin, a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, was battling with Penske driver Joey Logano for the win on the last corner when he and Logano made contact. The side-to-side contact sent Logano into the outside wall, and Hamlin slid hard into the inside wall as eventual winner Kyle Busch slipped by both spinning cars for the race win.
While Logano slid to a sixth-place finish, Hamlin’s car slammed the inside wall head-on. Unfortunately for Hamlin, the inside wall at California lacked the protective Safer-Barrier used on most tracks. The tremendous force of the impact not only destroyed Hamlin’s #11 FedEx racer, but resulted in him suffering an L1 compression fracture in his back.
A team statement reported that Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates had evaluated Hamlin’s injury. “Dr. Petty determined that Hamlin will not require surgery, but will need time to properly heal, which is estimated around six weeks. Dr. Petty will make a determination when Hamlin will be able to return to racing this season.”
Hamlin is currently 10th in the Cup standings. He will likely drop out of serious contention for the 2013 title having to miss at least the next five events in the series while recovering. The Gibbs team has yet to make a decision on a substitute driver for Hamlin, but will have extra time to thoroughly evaluate the possibilities during the week off for Easter break.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action at Martinsville the weekend after Easter.