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NASCAR's Denny Hamlin leaves hospital, still in pain

March 26, 2013|By Chuck Schilken
  • NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back Sunday when he crashed into a wall on the final lap at Fontana.
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

After tweeting, "I just want to go home," earlier in the day, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin finally got his wish Monday evening when he was released from the Loma Linda University Medical Center more than 24 hours after wrecking into the wall on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 in Fontana.

Still, life probably won't be returning to normal any time soon for Hamlin, who suffered a compression fracture in his lower back during the crash that followed his collision with rival driver Joey Logano.

Hamlin was wearing a back brace and clutched his ribs in discomfort while speaking to reporters after leaving the hospital. He explained that he was having difficulty breathing while having to keep his body completely straight.

“I never felt this before,” Hamlin said. “Really, my first reaction is I felt something pop in my back and that’s why I was really trying to get out of the car as soon as I could because the position I was in ... I couldn’t breathe at all. Still having a hard time breathing.”

Hamlin's team, Joe Gibbs Racing, has given no indication when he might return to action. The immediate plan is for Hamlin to meet with a specialist with Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates in Charlotte, N.C. He was asked about the possibility of taking part in the next Sprint Cup Series race, at Martinsville Speedway on April 7.

“It’s so tough to say,” he said. “Just from yesterday to today I’m a lot better, but I don’t know how long this process takes. I read up on it a little bit and nothing I read sounds too encouraging on what my next couple of months is going to be like.”

Hamlin was also asked whether he thought the accident had anything to do with his rivalry with Logano or if it was just two drivers going hard for the win.

“I think it’s a little bit of both if I had to characterize it,” Hamlin said. “I really went out of my way throughout the day to give [Logano] room in a lot of places. He raced me really hard for really the entire event -- and obviously other guys as well. But at the end I think he saw I was going to win and wasn’t going to let that happen.”

Hamlin said that he has received an outpouring of support from "pretty much all my peers." But when asked if Logano was one of them, Hamlin replied, "No."


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