Denny Hamlin, seen on a stretcher following his crash Sunday at Auto Club… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower back in the last-lap crash in Fontana, his team said Monday.
Hamlin, who already had a history of back problems, damaged his L1 vertebra after slamming head-on into the inside wall at Auto Club Speedway during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Hamlin, 32, hoped to be released from a nearby hospital Monday to fly home to North Carolina, his team Joe Gibbs Racing said.
The Cup series doesn't race again until April 7, at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. But it wasn't immediately known whether Hamlin would be able to drive by then or might require surgery.
Gibbs said it likely would have an update after Hamlin is evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty of the Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Assn. later this week.
Hamlin was battling former teammate Joey Logano for the win on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 when they collided, sending both cars spinning and into the wall.
Hamlin initially climbed out of his No. 11 Toyota but quickly slumped to the ground, where medical workers treated him and placed him in an ambulance.
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