After visiting with a NASCAR doctor today, Denny Hamlin received bad news. JGR officials announced that Hamlin will be out of the No.11 car for at least 6 weeks while he heals from the compression fracture in his back. Hamlin suffered the injury following the final lap crash at Fontana last Sunday.If Hamlin were to stay out of the car for the next six weeks, he would miss the races at Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Richmond and Talladega. The timetable could change if Hamlin’s injury heals faster than expected, but we likely won’t see him back behind the wheel until mid-May.
This injury puts a damper on Hamlin’s championship chances since missing even one race can derail a drivers shot at winning it all, let alone potentially five races.
Hamlin’s injury will not require surgery which means the back itself needs six weeks to fully-heal.
Elliot Sadler has been rumored to be the fill-in driver for Hamlin while he recovers, but JGR will likely officially announce who his substitute will be in the coming days.
News like this is always hard to hear and Hamlin had to receive this news today. Hamlin’s long-term health was the thing questioned in this situation and he would rather sit out a few races now rather than risk even more injury in the future. This is a major blow to Hamlin’s season, but he will likely come out of this situation better than he has ever been before.