Hamlin not cleared to race Saturday at Richmond

Denny Hamlin hasn’t been cleared to race at his home track in

Richmond as he had hoped.

Hamlin sustained a compression fracture of a vertebra in his

lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24.

Doctors said he’d miss at least five races, but Hamlin hoped to

return early to race at Richmond, where he’s a two-time winner.

But Hamlin wasn’t cleared Wednesday to race after visits to Dr.

Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, and

apparently consultations with others.

”Unfortunately I won’t be racing this weekend at Richmond,” he

posted on Twitter. ”It kills me to not be in the car for my team

and sponsors but after long discussions with the doctors we have

decided to wait on my return back to racing.

”Thanks to all of my fans who have sent encouraging messages

over the last month. I’ll be back in no time.”

Hamlin has missed three races so far, two of which were won by

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Brian Vickers will drive the No. 11 Toyota for him Saturday

night at Richmond.

Hamlin also will miss his annual Denny Hamlin Short Track

Showdown, the race he hosts at Richmond International Raceway to

benefit the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at the

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. He had already tabbed

Kenseth to replace him in his car for the charity race after he was

injured, but had hoped to get back in time to race the Sprint Cup


Instead, he’ll again be a spectator for both events.

Hamlin has been watching the Cup races alongside crew chief

Darian Grubb on top of the pit box, where he wears a headset and

communicates with Vickers. He’s said it has given him a different

perspective on the racing – one he hopes he can apply upon his