NASCAR

Hamlin says back will be fine

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

Denny Hamlin said Thursday his back is feeling fine and he doesn't expect any issues this weekend at New Hampshire.

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Hamlin missed practice last week at Daytona and sat out the Nationwide Series race while receiving treatment for back spasms. He said he's had torn and bulging disks for some time, and may someday need surgery on his back.

''It's a lot better. I worked on doing some rehab with the back, I've had this episode happen once or twice in the last four years,'' he said. ''It's taken about a week to get over it. Really it was last Monday that set it off. Right at the start of this week the spasms started subsiding. It is feeling a lot better.''

Hamlin played Thursday in a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte, and said he worked hard this week to be ready to play in the event that included Michael Jordan.

''I knew this was on the schedule so I worked extra hard in the gym to make sure I was stretched out and good and ready to go for the tournament,'' he said.

An avid golfer, Hamlin spent the offseason in Arizona so he could better his game.

Now he's looking forward to Sunday's race at New Hampshire. His crew chief, Darian Grubb, led Tony Stewart to the win last season. Hamlin goes into the race with two wins and ranked eighth in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

''We feel like this is going to be a really good weekend for us,'' he said. ''It's one of the races that we looked at and said `I'm good there, the crew chief has won there last year and hopefully it's a place we can win.' And, hopefully we earn some more Chase bonus points.''

Tagged: Denny Hamlin

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