RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin won’t race this weekend at Richmond Int’l Raceway — his home track. There is also a realistic chance he may not race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the foreseeable future.
Hamlin said during a press conference Thursday at RIR that should the injuries he suffered in a crash at Auto Club Speedway in California last month force him to miss many more races, he may opt for surgery to help his ailing back.
“I think if this goes past Darlington then I don’t know what the chances of us making the Chase are even if we were to race this weekend, race next weekend or the one after. I don’t know the chances,” Hamlin said. “There are a lot of good teams that you have to beat to guarantee you’re going to win the races. Obviously, if it goes past Darlington, our chances are crushed even harder.”
It would be very difficult at this point for Hamlin to race his way into the Chase. He’d have to win as many races as possible between now and the final race before the Chase on Sept. 7 at Richmond and hope that gave him enough points to make it into the top-20 as well as enough victories to qualify for a wildcard position.
Realizing that making the Chase is a long shot, Hamlin noted he is considering surgery to repair his damaged back.
“I think a recovery on the kind of surgery that I would like to have is about a month-and-a-half or so,” Hamlin noted. “I could potentially come back maybe for the tail end of the year. It wouldn’t be a season-ending (surgery). I don’t think anything would be season-ending I guess you could say. Eventually you have to know the point at which you’re looking at improbabilities of making the Chase and just being smart about it.”
Hamlin said that on a scale of one to 10, he is dealing with a pain factor of seven on a daily basis. The injury also limits what he can do away from the race car, which is why he is considering surgery.
“I deal with it every day. The part that bothers me is it does affect my daily life. I can’t lift the baby in or out of the crib because I can’t lean over and things like that,” Hamlin said. “That is stuff that does affect your daily life and really other than my back I am physically able to do a lot of things outside of racing, but I can’t because I’m so limited on what I can do because of back issues. I just want to get that part over with.
“I’m willing to take the risk to get better and take the time off to get better because I feel like mentally it will put me in a better place.”