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Hamlin suffers spinal compression fracture

Every back injury is different and there is hope that Hamlin's case won't end up requiring surgery down the road or involve a more extensive lay-off than six weeks. However, the 32-year-old does have a long history of back problems, last year suffering from back spasms resulting from what he described as "bulging disks" that required careful management through rehabilitation, injections, strength-building exercises and cutting back on possible trigger activities such as golf and basketball. Hamlin has said he feels the condition might be genetic, as his father suffers from the same problems.

For the time being, rest and recuperation are on the agenda for Hamlin once he gets home before anything is decided about his return to racing. He'll need to be cleared for competition by Dr Jerry Petty before he's allowed to get back into a race car, and part of that will need him to be off any pain medications first.

"We're kind of leaving the analyzing for him [Dr. Petty] on what to do either surgery-wise or just stick with a brace and let it heal itself," Hamlin said, not sounding optimistic about a quick return. "Either way, obviously, both of them take a lot of time."

JGR said that it is not planning on making any immediate announcements regarding contingency plans about who might be in line to fill the #11 race seat. NASCAR takes a week off this weekend for Easter before the next scheduled event on April 7 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, giving the team extra time to decide.

The team's Nationwide Series driver Elliott Sadler could get called up to fill in for Hamlin for any short-term absence at Martinsville Speedway; JGR's other Nationwide competitor Brian Vickers is already lined up to run in the Cup race there with Michael Waltrip Racing, but he could still be an option to fill in for Hamlin in subsequent races.

The accident in which Hamlin was injured happened when he and Joey Logano were competing for the race win out of the final corner of the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. Running on the low-side, Logano was unable to hold the tight line and drifted up unto Hamlin putting them both into the wall. Hamlin then rebounded and hit the inside wall nose-on at high speed in an impact that lifted the car clear off the ground, which is what appears to have done the actual damage to the driver.

Hamen said he'd heard from almost every fellow NASCAR driver while in the hospital - except for Logano, whom he clearly felt wrecked him deliberately. "At the end, I think he saw I was going to win and he wasn't going to let that happen," he said.

Logano himself gave his first comments to the media since learning of Hamlin's injury, in which he expressed regret about Hamlin's condition while once again denying he'd intentionally sought to wreck his rival regardless of the recent building animosity between the two former team mates.

"You don't ever want anyone to get hurt; you don't ever want anything to happen, especially to Denny. We were racing really hard there at the end of the race," he said on Monday. "The last thing I wanted to hear last night was that he was in the hospital. We're hoping for a speedy recovery and hoping that he's out there racing at Martinsville.

"We raced each other hard, we pushed each other up the racetrack and there were no intentions of wrecking each other," he continued. "You want to rub each other a little bit, and that's part of the race," he said, adding that it was just bad luck that Hamlin had gone on to hit nose-first at an unprotected part of the inside wall lacking SAFER impact-reduction technology.




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)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, receives a lobster in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #34 Taco Bell Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, are seen on the track after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/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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