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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)
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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