"I just hate not being able to be in the car right now, but I really appreciate Mark being able to fill in for me," said Hamlin. "Like everyone in NASCAR, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark and I know he will keep that FedEx Camry up front until I get back behind the wheel."
Hamlin has also revealed that he has been in touch with Joey Logano, with whom the collision on the final lap of last weekend's Cup race at Fontana sparked the #11's hard hit against the inside wall at Auto Club Speedway that caused Hamlin's injury.
"It didn't go well," Hamlin told the Associated Press
about his text exchange with his rival. "The conversation was both short and unproductive."
Logano' team boss Roger Penske has also been in touch with Hamlin: "I've texted back and forth with him and said that we're thinking about him," said Penske on Wednesday. "Obviously, we're hoping for a speedy recovery. It's never good to have a driver out for a period of time."
The under-fire Logano - who was also involved in a post-race altercation with Tony Stewart in pit lane after the three-time Cup champion accused him of blocking during an earlier restart - did get the strong public backing of his team boss this week.
"I stand behind him and I think he's going to go down as one of the greatest drivers to ever race," Penske insisted. "What happened at the end there wasn't anything more than hard racing."
Penske particularly bristled against Stewart's heated accusation that Logano was "nothing but a little rich kid that has never had to work in his life."
"He's a solid young man and his family has supported him in racing as many families of professional athletes do in every sport," Penske responded. "I can tell Tony I've never hired a driver that paid me.
"Anyone who looks at that as a criticism, to focus on that is just petty," he continued, adding that Stewart criticising someone else for blocking was rather rich: "Tony, he's one of the best blockers in the business."
Despite that, Penske said that his previous offer to Stewart to field him in an open-wheel car in the Indianapolis 500 was still on the table, should Stewart be inclined to accept.