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Denny Hamlin (l) and Matt Kenseth
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin missed last weekend’s Auto Club 400 due to a medical issue. At the time, his absence was described as being the result of “complications from a sinus infection.”
Little else was said on race day, which left the door open to wild speculation as to the real cause. Dale Earnhardt Jr. openly wondered why he wanted to hear a better explanation from Hamlin so as to clear up any misconceptions as to the cause of the medical issue.
Upon further medical examination during the week, it was discovered that Hamlin actually had a small sliver of metal lodged near the lens of his eye, which caused him great discomfort and mimicked the side effects of a severe sinus infection.
Hamlin has subsequently been cleared to drive at Martinsville.
Six for Six?
The Sprint Cup Series has seen five different winners in its first five races of 2014. That could easily grow to six in six, as there are a handful of drivers teetering on the edge of winning, including Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who have each won here eight times.
Both men were in position to win last weekend but were tripped up while in the closing laps.
Johnson had a tire failure that forced him onto pit road while leading the race. Gordon, who inherited the lead when Johnson pitted, then lost it when the caution came out with three laps remaining.
Gordon believed he too had a tire that was losing air, and he relinquished his lead to come onto pit road for fresh tires. He finished 13th, and Johnson finished 24th.
These Hendrick teammates could be running one-two as the field races toward the checkered flag. Question is: In which order?
Mother Nature to Spoil the Party?
After a week’s respite from the questionable East Coast spring weather, NASCAR’s competitors once again face the possibility of an altered weekend schedule due to rain.
The two group qualifying sessions were able to be completed on Friday.
Saturday’s Sprint Cup “Happy Hour” practice session and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race later in the afternoon look to be in serious jeopardy. Sunday’s weather forecast looks dry.
Larson vs. Dillon: The Battle Continues
Kyle Larson’s runner-up finish shone a bright spotlight on the young rookie from Chip Ganassi Racing. However, his main Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver Austin Dillon, has been flying under the radar and scoring points. He sits ninth in driver points. Larson is 16th.
The RCR driver has only one top-10 finish so far, compared to Larson’s two. But Dillon’s overall performance places him higher in points.
Larson has one Sprint Cup race at Martinsville on his resume—last October. He finished 42nd. Sunday will be Dillon’s Cup debut at the track. He has competed in four NCWTS at Martinsville, with a best finish of third (10/29/2011).
Both drivers will start from the back half of the field Sunday. Larson will start from 28th position; Dillon from 34th.