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Denny Hamlin ruled out of Richmond return

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.)



Related Pictures

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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 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 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)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with his crew after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field at the start of the Nationwide Childrens`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet SS, qualified seventh Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Menard is 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, captured the pole position Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan NASCAR Sprint Cup 400 race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The was Gordon`s second pole position this season. He set a new track record in the final round of qualifying with a lap of 206.558 mph. Gordon is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates capturing the pole position Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The was Gordon`s second pole position this season. He set a new track record in the final round of qualifying with a lap of 206.558 mph. Gordon is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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