Denny Hamlin will miss a fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this weekend, failing to receive approval from doctors to compete at Richmond International Raceway.
Hamlin made the announcement Wednesday night via Twitter, writing:
"It kills me to not be in the car for my team and sponsors but after long discussions with the doctors, we've decided to wait on my return to racing. Thanks to all of my fans who've sent encouraging messages over the last month. I'll be back in no time."
Hamlin had stated last week he thought he had a 50-50 chance of being in the car at Richmond and, at least, hoped to be in the car next week at Talladega Superspeedway.
Richmond will mark the fourth consecutive race Hamlin has missed since suffering a compression fracture in his vertebrae in a last-lap crash March 24 at Auto Club Speedway. By missing another race, Hamlin’s chances of making the post-season Chase become more challenging. He's 26th in the standings, 42 points out of 20th place.
To be eligible for one of the two Wild Card spots, he'll need to be in the top 20 by Richmond in September. If he's not in the top 20, then it won’t matter how many wins he has. He won’t make the Chase. Hamlin has made the Chase all seven seasons he’s run full-time in the Cup series.
Even more disheartening for Hamlin is that Richmond, his home track, is among his best tracks. He has two wins, seven top fives and nine-top 10 finishes in 14 Cup starts there. His average finish of 8.0 is second only to teammate Kyle Busch among active drivers.
With Hamlin not able to race, Brian Vickers will again drive the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Vickers placed eighth at Texas and 31st at Kansas Speedway driving in place of Hamlin. Mark Martin drove in place of Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway, placing 10th.