Denny Hamlin will remain out of the Joe Gibbs Racing No.11 at Richmond International Raceway this weekend as doctors say he needs to wait at least another week.
“Ultimately, we even talked about doing that here at Richmond, but it’s unfair to the team for me to get out and then go three or four laps down on pit road and really know that the team’s not going to finish any better than 35th. Why would they even show up for that?” Hamlin said.
After sustaining a compression fracture to his L1 vertebra at California Speedway on March 24, Hamlin is on track in his recovery, but not as fast as Hamlin would have wished. Hamlin said last week that he would like to return at Richmond, but per doctor’s orders, that was not possible.
“I saw the scan and saw the healing that they were talking about. However, some kind of in-plate is not healing the way that they wanted it and that’s what they wanted in order to clear me. Really, that was their determining factor and, obviously, my injury is very, very hard because there is no exact science to the risk.” Hamlin said.
“Obviously, we were hoping to be optimistic by coming here (Richmond) and my thought was that being a shorter track the chances of you taking the same hit again was substantially less, but it’s just all subjective and opinions.”
Hamlin planned to start at Talladega and then let another driver take over. Right now that plan is still reachable if the healing continues and if he is cleared by his doctors.
“They all came to the conclusion they were happy with me starting Talladega and getting out when it’s a safe time to get out.” Hamlin said.
If not, then Hamlin will move on to Darlington. “We will start our process at Talladega and then rescan again and try to go to Darlington.” Hamlin said.
Brian Vickers will continue to drive in his absence this weekend.