FORT WORTH, Texas — Denny Hamlin confirmed Friday at Texas Motor Speedway that he will undergo surgery during the offseason to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
The recovery time for the surgery is roughly 10 weeks, which means it should not impact Hamlin’s readiness to defend his victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 16.
Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press first broke the news on Twitter before Hamlin addressed the shoulder issue during an afternoon media conference.
“I really don’t know how it happened to be honest with you, but it’s something that has been nagging (me) really for years,” said Hamlin. “I’ve had shoulder issues; it just got to the point where it was really bad and (I) got it scanned and (we) figured out what it was.
“It hadn’t really affected me in the car at all. That part has really been fine.”
Hamlin said that contrary to what some might believe, his shoulder issue hasn’t affected him very much in his normal life outside of the race car, either.
“It really has not limited me to be honest with you. It’s uncomfortable while sleeping. I can’t sleep on that side, but it really hasn’t limited me to be honest,” he noted. “I got a Cortisone shot in it, which really, really helped. That’s been my saving grace, when things start hurting. So that really changed. It went from being immobile to feels like there is nothing wrong with it right now to be honest.
“I can still lift weights. I can just only do them a certain way,” Hamlin continued. “I have to limit my mobility on that part, but it hasn’t affected anything in my everyday life.”
Hamlin also explained that the Cortisone shot he received was meant to get him through to the offseason, when he can have the surgery, though he didn’t specify exactly when the shot was administered.
“It was weeks ago, but it was just progressively getting worse over the late summer to early fall,” said Hamlin. “So just a few weeks ago the doctors came and gave me a little bit of relief with that just kind of to get me into the offseason where I can fix it.”
Hamlin comes into the Texas race weekend second in the playoff standings and best among the drivers currently in the Championship 4 on points, with a 24-point cushion over the elimination line.
“I feel pretty good about where we’re at,” said Hamlin. “We gained on the cutoff line.” Obviously, we had one of our competitors win, which is not what you want to happen. We go to every race track thinking we are going to win, and so, when we come here this weekend, and next, we are locked in on what do we need to do to win. That’s my focus. I don’t want to have to count on points, but if we do, we are in the best spot of anyone thus far.
“We are going to do everything we can to keep that and just keep having solid weeks, really, from start to finish,” he continued. “Through the playoffs, our first round was not so great, but after that we have just had solid practices, we are qualifying where we think we should and the races have been really good for us.
“We just want to continue that trend and not change anything, even though the stakes are higher now.”
This is not the first time that Hamlin has raced injured. He finished the 2015 season with a torn ACL in his right knee, suffered during a pick-up basketball game. He had surgery to repair that injury during the ensuing offseason and returned at full strength in 2016.