Sunday afternoon during the 2013 Auto Club 400, Denny Hamlin—driver of the No. 11 FedEx car—was involved in a serious accident on the last lap of the race that sent him careening into the inside wall of the speedway head on.
There was no SAFER barrier on the wall Hamlin struck.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 26, at 10:22 p.m. ET by Dan Talintyre
Denny Hamlin will miss at least six weeks of action due to his broken vertebrae, according to his team (per Tony DiZinno, NBC Sports).
Joe Gibbs Racing has not yet announced a replacement for Hamlin, who shared his thoughts on Twitter about how long he'll be out for.
I wish I got good news today.. I didn't.— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 27, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Monday, Mar. 25, at 3:50 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Excellent news, as Hamlin says that he is "all good," which means fans should expect the popular driver to make a successful recovery.
All good twitter.com/dennyhamlin/st…— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 25, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Monday, Mar. 25, at 2:50 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
ESPN's Brant James has the latest on Hamlin courtesy of Joe Gibbs Racing:
Hamlin tweeted to the world this afternoon following yesterday's crash:
I just want to go home— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 25, 2013
The Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter followed with more details regarding Hamlin's injury:
NEWS: From JGR: Denny Hamlin has confirmed L1 compression fracture. Hopes to return to NC today. May miss races, May need surgery. #NASCAR— Jim Utter (@jim_utter) March 25, 2013
---End of update---
While Hamlin initially put down his window net to indicate he was alright and stepped out of his car, the driver immediately fell to the ground, was placed on a stretcher, taken by ambulance to the infield care center and then airlifted to a local hospital, according to Chris Estrada of NBC Sports.
Hamlin’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, released a statement (h/t MotorSportsTalk) about the incident and how the team says Hamlin is doing now:
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver Denny Hamlin was involved in an accident on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin complained of lower back pain at the track’s infield medical center and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Hamlin will remain at the hospital overnight for observation. No further updates are expected tonight.
While JGR was unable to update the fans concerned about Hamlin’s health, the driver’s girlfriend, Jordan Fish, took to Twitter to let the fans know that he’s alert, but there is concern about his back injury:
Thank u everyone for your messages concerning Denny. Darian is keeping us posted. He's alert n awake, main concern is his back #PrayersforDH— Jordan Fish (@MissJFish) March 25, 2013
This is an accident that should have been avoided, but the blame for the accident should fall on one man’s shoulders: Joey Logano and the No. 22 team. Logano is a former teammate of Hamlin’s, and the rivalry between the men caused friction on the track last week at Bristol when Hamlin spun the No. 22 car.
Should Joey Logano be punished for his actions Sunday?
Logano had no issue telling the media that he didn’t mind getting physical with Hamlin. And after wrecking the No. 11 car Sunday—before he realized how serious Hamlin was injured—the young driver hinted to the Sporting News about how he may or may not have wrecked his former teammate as retribution:
Denny Hamlin was not going to win that race. I wanted to win that race. I feel like I had the car to win the race. … It was just racing for the lead. I guess we're even now. He'll think twice before he does something next time.
This is the kind of scary injury situation NASCAR doesn’t want for any reason, but the fact that the accident was 100 percent avoidable and possibly caused on purpose should result in the governing body of the sport coming down hard with its punishment on Logano.
When it comes to the safety of the drivers, NASCAR can’t mess around.