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Hamlin suffers spinal compression fracture

Denny Hamlin has a compression fracture that will put him out of racing for at least six weeks following a nasty wreck at the end of Sunday's race, his team Joe Gibbs Racing has confirmed.
Denny Hamlin's 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship campaign hangs in the balance this week after it was confirmed that he'd sustained a serious lower back injury in the hard hit he took at the and of the Auto Club 400 race at Fontana on Sunday afternoon.

"Hamlin suffered a L1 compression fracture following an accident on the final lap," his team Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed in a statement released early on Monday. "Hamlin hopes to be released today to fly to his home in North Carolina where he will be evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates later this week."

Hamlin himself tweeted from his hospital bed in California on Monday morning, stating that "I just want to go home." He was finally released shortly before 8pm in the evening, walking without assistance but wearing a back brace under his clothes to stop him from bending or twisting, and having noticeable difficulties with his breathing.

As he left the hospital, Hamlin told USA Today that he'd felt a 'pop' in his back during the crash and been unable to breath while seated in the car immediately afterwards, which is why he had felt the need to climb out. "When I felt a pop, I couldn't move at all and I knew I had to get flat to my back to be able to breathe again. That's why I rushed out and just laid flat on the ground to start breathing," he said.

JGR subsequently released an update on Tuesday stating that Hamlin would not require surgery for the injury, but would be sidelined for at least six weeks. The driver hasn't missed an event in 264 Cup starts, ever since the end of the end of the 2005 season.

Any prolonged absence from racing would almost certainly doom Hamlin's chances of making it into the end-of-season Chase play-offs for the Cup championship, as he is currently only in tenth position in the points standings after five races.

Back injuries are at the top of every motor racing driver's list of worries, since they can force a driver out of the race seat for weeks or even months while they heal as further impacts to an existing injury can exacerbate the situation and lead to far more serious spinal problems, something that Hamlin was keenly aware of as he left hospital. "I don't want to make it worse," he said. "It's not worth that."

British driver Justin Wilson missed the second half of the IndyCar Series season in 2011 after sustaining a compression fracture in his fifth thoracic vertebra during a practice session, and was forced to wear a back brace for several months while the injury healed. He was out of racing for nearly six months as a result.

Other notable recent back injuries have happened to Will Power (at Sonoma in 2009) and Anthony Davidson (at Le Mans in 2012), both of whom suffered more extensive spinal fractures and were immobilised in bed for several weeks afterwards, which does not appear to be the case with Hamlin. A closer equivalence might be the L1 injury sustained by IndyCar's Dario Franchitti in a motorbike accident in 2003, but that itself also ended up requiring surgery which put Franchitti out of racing for nine months in total.




Related Pictures

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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, walks down pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 15, 2013 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, stands on the grid after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2013 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota,comes to rest on pit road after a collision with Joey Logano (not pictured), driver of the #22 AAA Southern California Ford, during the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 24, 2013 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, walks down pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 15, 2013 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Coulter`s #21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet is towed off the track under a red flag after an incident during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 1, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 1, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, drives during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 1, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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lynn - Unregistered

March 27, 2013 2:58 PM

I have never been a fan of Hamlins but not because he isn't a good driver but because he is a big crybaby but I never wish any driver to get hurt. Dislike of a driver on the track is not a personal thing but just a racing thing. I wish Hamlin a speedy recovery and hope everything comes out well for his return. As for the comment that his championship hopes hangs in the balance, they will not happen at all this year, no driver can recover from a 6 race points loss. He would have to make up 258 points plus what it would take to move in front of the top 12 in the chase. I would say there is a 99% chance this won't happen. Hope for a speedy and complete recovery for Hamlin



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