Erik Jones replaces Denny Hamlin at Bristol after neck spasms

April 19, 2015

When drivers were called back to their called back to their cars at Bristol Motor Speedway after a lengthy rain delay Sunday night, Erik Jones replaced Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Hamlin was fifth when the race was red flagged for rain, but complained about neck spasms and did not think he could be 100 percent inside the car for the remainder of the race. The red-flag period lasted more than three hours.

After Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race, Jones returned to the Charlotte, N.C., area and was flown back to Bristol when Hamlin was experiencing his issues.

As the race went back to yellow flag conditions, Hamlin sat atop the No. 11 pit box and told FOX Sports 1 he pulled something in his neck and upper back around Lap 12 of the race.


During the rain delay he tried to stretch it out, but did not feel well enough to race for the win.

"With this format it's all about winning and the way I'm feeling there's no way I could go out there and win," said Hamlin.

Instead, the team opted to put Jones in the car for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. Hamlin said it was "more important" to get Jones Sprint Cup experience than for him to go out and try to race through the pain.

"It's something that will go away, I just pulled something," said Hamlin. "I've just got to go try and win Richmond next week."

As a result of the driver change, Jones had to drop to the tail end of the field when the race resumed at 6:50 p.m. ET. 

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