NASCAR »

Denny Hamlin misses Sprint Cup race Fontana due to illness

Illness forced Denny Hamlin to withdraw from Sunday's Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California just minutes before the start of the Sprint Cup race.
In a dramatic press announcement just 30 minutes before the scheduled start of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Denny Hamlin would not be competing in the event.

"He has a sinus infection, and it's affecting his vision, so he won't be able to start the race today," said team president JD Gibbs, who indicated that Hamlin had been suffering from a sinus infection since Friday but that the condition had got much worse on race day.

"It's not just a headache. It's a lot more serious than that. He was actually losing vision [in] his eye," Hamlin's crew chief Darian Grubb explained to MRN.com and NASCAR.com after the race. "He held his head and said his head was hurting so bad. He was having trouble seeing.

"You could tell the worry in his face, he was really upset," he continued. "His vision was getting worse and the pain was getting worse. It got to where he couldn't see and was having trouble with the vision in his left eye because of the pressure and everything that was going on."

Hamlin told the NASCAR medical team about his condition, and they took the decision to pull him from competition: "NASCAR did some testing and he could not follow the finger going by his eyes as he should have been," Grubb confirmed. "They weren't going to let him go [racing.]"

"I think he could still drive, but the problem was he was concerned about it," suggested Gibbs. "He just wanted to make sure it was taken care of. When he brought it up, the doctors said, 'Hey, you have to do this right away. Hopefully it's nothing, but you have to get it checked out.'

Instead, Hamlin was sent to a local California hospital for further evaluation and treatment. He was released later on Sunday evening after undergoing tests. Joe Gibbs Racing said in a subsequent team statement that Hamlin would be further evaluated this week back at a facility in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"So disappointed that I can't compete today," Hamlin tweeted later. "Sorry to all my fans. Thought we had a car that could win today."

Hamlin also ended up in hospital in last year's visit to Fontana, after a last-lap clash with Joey Logano sent Hamlin into a nasty impact with the inside wall and injured his lower back, which saw him sit out the following four races and effectively put an end to his 2013 Chase hopes.

Hamlin's place in the #11 car was taken by Sam Hornish Jr., who is driving a limited schedule for JGR in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and who had been at Fontana as a stand-by driver in case pole sitter Matt Kenseth - Hamlin's JGR team mate - had been called away to attend the birth of his third child with wife Katie which is due this weekend.

Hornish has experience of being called up as a last-second substitute, having replaced AJ Allmendinger at the 2012 Coke Zero 400 after the then-Penske driver was suspended form competition over a failed drugs test. Allmendinger has since been full reinstated after undergoing NASCAR's 'road to recovery' program.

Even so, the sudden call-up caught Hornish off-guard: "I figured there was no way I was getting in a car today," he said. "I was probably not as well-hydrated and well-fed as I would have been if I'd known I was getting in the car."

Hornish said the first thing he knew about it was when he got an urgent text message from Grubb asking him to come to the JGR trailer while he had been chatting with Roger Penske. Hornish went on to finish the race in 17th place, very respectable in the circumstances in what was his first Sprint Cup start since last April's race at Kansas Speedway.

Although Hamlin will not benefit from the championship points the #11 won in Hornish's hands as only the driver who starts the race gets credited with the points, NASCAR confirmed that Sunday's absence will not affect Hamlin's eligibility for the Chase under the new format and will be counted as a medical exemption under the rules.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, celebrates winning the pole position after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 14, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The #11 FedEx Freight Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota stands in the garage area during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A large incident occurs on the backstretch during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. With him are Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finished second, and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, waves to fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, picks up the victory flag Sunday, May 3, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Sponge Bob Square Pants Ford, wreck during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, Kenny Wallace, driver of the #26 JGL Racing Toyota, Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Uncle Bob`s Self Storage Chevrolet, and John Wes Townley, driver of the #25 Zaxby`s Chevrolet, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Earnhardt, Jr. is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.