NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin probably will be sidelined about six weeks after injuring his lower back in a crash at the race in Fontana, his team announced Tuesday night.
Gibbs said the prognosis was made by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, who evaluated the driver after Hamlin flew home to North Carolina.
"Dr. Petty determined that Hamlin will not require surgery but will need time to properly heal, which is estimated around six weeks' time," Gibbs said. "Dr. Petty will make the determination when Hamlin will be able to return to racing this season."
Hamlin, who already had a history of back problems, suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra when his No. 11 Toyota crashed head-on into an inside wall at Auto Club Speedway on the last lap of Sunday's race.
Hamlin and Joey Logano had been racing side by side for the win when they collided, triggering Hamlin's crash and escalating a feud that had been brewing between the drivers since the season began.
Sunday's Auto Club 500 was the fifth race of the season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and Hamlin is 10th in the Cup title standings. The series is off this weekend and resumes April 7 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Gibbs said it had not decided who would drive Hamlin's car in his absence. Hamlin, now in his eighth full year in the series, has 22 career Cup victories.
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