Denny Hamlin has a torn knee ligament and won't have surgery to repair it until after the upcoming NASCAR season.
Hamlin says he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing basketball on Friday. The injury was first reported by ESPN.com after Hamlin pulled out of a skills competition for NASCAR drivers hosted by the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.
Hamlin had surgery in December on his right knee, and the new injury is unrelated.
Hamlin is the popular preseason pick to unseat four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson this year. He won two of the final 10 races last year, including the season finale.
The NASCAR season begins next month at Daytona International Speedway.