Hamlin's continued absence from the grid means that he's already dropped to 26th place in the championship standings, making his chances of making this year's Chase play-offs look somewhat remote. He's even 42 points outside the top 20, in which he would need to finish to be eligible for a 'most wins' wild card slot - although Hamlin has yet to clinch even one win so far in 2013.
Given that his championship campaign hopes look very remote to say the least, Hamlin is even starting to consider whether it wouldn't be a better move to write off the whole of the rest of 2013 and attend to other medical concerns in the meantime since he's sidelined anyway.
Even before the current injury, Hamlin had been suffered from bulging discs in his back that can flare up and leave him in pain, a condition that the 32-year-old said was genetic as his father also suffered from it. The Fontana crash exacerbated the situation, which Hamlin had already been eyeing surgery over the offseason for. Now the question is whether he should move that up and have it done sooner rather than later.
“I'm at the point now where, if they don't let me back in the car in a timely fashion, where I'm going to be racing for nothing for the rest of the year, I'd just as soon do it now and get it over with and come back next year strong and ready to go,” Hamlin said on Wednesday.
“We have to be smart about this. It is just one season and, hopefully, there are many more to come. I'm just trying to do the right thing for my team and sponsors because I feel like they need me," he added.
All in all it was a Black Wednesday for the Joe Gibbs Racing team, since as well as news about Hamlin's continued absence from the driver line-up they were also rocked by heavy penalties on Matt Kenseth and his crew chief as a result of a rules infraction relating to a component of the Toyota engine. (See separate story