Its been a rough four weeks for NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin. At the conclusion of the Auto Club 400, he was sent into the inside wall by rival Joey Logano then suffered a crushed vertebrae that has kept the championship contender cooling on his heels and out of the race car.
While he has been waiting to get back into the car, he has not forgiven Logano for the crash, asserting that it was not just an accident and Logano knew what he was doing.
Hamlin has been at every race he can as first Mark Martin then Brian Vickers have drove the No.11 Joe Gibbs Racing ride in his place. Both drivers have done mostly solid work over the last couple weeks, this last Saturday night being the exception as Vickers wrecked the car out at the tail end of the race, bringing out a late caution and green-white-checkered finish.
Hamlin announced today that he would be starting in the Aaron’s 499 this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. He will start the race in the car so that he will be able to get the driver points for the day, and Vickers will hop in for the finish.
Even though it’s not a full return, Hamlin is still excited:
I can not wait to get back in car.. The smell of fuel and tires Ahhh
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) April 30, 2013
The Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway has always been Hamlin’s target to return fully since the grim prognosis after the incident in California.
So far, the driver has been mum on whether he will back fully by then. If he can’t return fully at Darlington, then he will have to reevaluate his season and decide whether it is worth continuing to race for nothing if he can’t get a wild card position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
One thing is for sure: no matter what road is ahead for Hamlin, it will be a rough ride.