HAMPTON, Ga. -- No splint, and no ligament damage for Denny Hamlin.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is competing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a sprained right thumb suffered in a crash last weekend at Bristol. Hamlin told SiriusXM satellite radio on Thursday that he was wearing a splint after getting his hand caught in the spokes of his steering wheel during the same accident in which Martin Truex Jr. broke a bone in his wrist.
Friday, a representative for the No. 11 team said Hamlin had visited that morning with a doctor, who determined there was no ligament damage and that the driver had only sprained his right thumb. Hamlin did not wear the splint during opening Sprint Cup Series practice Friday, or in qualifying on the 1.5-mile track.
Hamlin told SiriusXM that when he tested earlier this week at Chicagoland, he couldn't put his thumb on the wheel. By Friday, the condition had clearly improved. Hamlin said following his fourth-place qualifying run at Atlanta that he was having no issues gripping the wheel.
"I'm fine. Really, it's kind of been blown up more than it was supposed to," he said on pit road. "Just, wheel spins in your hands and it kind of gets jammed in there and you get a bunch of bruising the next day. It's just part of it. It obviously could have been a lot worse. We're just hope to get our season turned around. We just can't buy any luck at this point. It's one thing to run bad, it's another to have something like last week happen."
Last week at Bristol, contact with another car cut one of Hamlin's tires, resulting in an eight-car accident that required a red flag of 27 minutes to clean up. Truex broke the scaphoid bone in his right hand in the same crash, and will now pursue a berth to the Chase for the Sprint Cup while wearing a cast. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver planned to speak with Hamlin about the accident at some point.
"I haven't talked to him about it, but I probably will just to see what his take was as far as what caused it and what he could have done different," said Truex, who currently maintains the first Wild Card position. "You always want to learn more. You never want this kind of thing to happen. ? I'll probably talk to him and see what happened. Obviously, his isn't as serious because it isn't broken. I wish mine wasn't."
Hamlin has been there. The 22-time Sprint Cup race winner missed all of four events and most of another after suffering a broken lumbar vertebra in his back following a crash with Joey Logano on the final lap March 24 at Fontana. Hamlin comes to Atlanta 21st in points and almost certain to miss the Chase for the first time in his career.
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