CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sports Network) – Denny Hamlin revealed on his Twitter account on Tuesday that he has been medically cleared to at least start in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamlin has missed the last four Sprint Cup races — Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, and Richmond — due to a compression fracture in his lower back. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver sustained the injury during an accident on the final lap of the March 24 event in Fontana, Calif.
“I can not wait to get back in car.. The smell of fuel and tires Ahhh,” Hamlin tweeted.
Hamlin also tweeted that he was cleared “just to start.” JGR has yet to announce who will be in relief Hamlin, but it will likely be Brian Vickers, who has substituted for him at Texas, Kansas and Richmond. Mark Martin drove the No. 11 car at Martinsville.
By starting the race, Hamlin will receive the full points based on where the No. 11 finishes in the 500-mile race at Talladega.
Hamlin had hoped his return would be at Richmond, but after he was evaluated by doctors and had a scan on his back one week ago, doctors determined his injury had not healed properly and it would be a risk for him to start there.
“They (doctors) all came to the conclusion they were happy with me starting Talladega and getting out when it’s a safe time to get out,” Hamlin said during a press conference last Friday at Richmond.
Hamlin has dropped from 10th to 28th in the point standings since Fontana. With 17 races remaining during the regular season, Hamlin is hopeful he can still make the 12-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He has been in the Chase each year since his rookie season in 2006.
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