In the days since the accident that left him with a fractured vertebra, Denny Hamlin has received text messages from both on-track rival Joey Logano and Roger Penske, the owner of Logano's No. 22 car. Logano also addressed Hamlin on Twitter, tweeting "Wish @dennyhamlin a speedy recovery. Hope he gets back to the track soon. And thanks to all of my fans for their support."
Hamlin acknowledged the texts he exchanged with Logano in an interview with The Associated Press. "It didn't go well," Hamlin said. "The conversation was both short and unproductive."
Contact with Logano on the final lap Sunday sent Hamlin's car sliding down into an inside wall not covered by the SAFER barrier, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was airlifted to a Southern California hospital. He was diagnosed with a compression fracture in his L1 vertebra, and on Tuesday the team announced that Hamlin would require six weeks to recover.
"I've texted back and forth with him and said that we're thinking about him," Penske told The Associated Press in Humble, Texas, where he and Logano were both participating in Wednesday's Shell Houston Open Pro-Am golf tournament. "Obviously, we're hoping for a speedy recovery."
In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, JGR President J.D. Gibbs said he had not spoken to Logano, but had talked with Penske. "I'll probably keep that conversation private, just between the two of us," Gibbs said. "But obviously, he was concerned for Denny."
Sunday's incident was the latest chapter in an ongoing feud between the drivers that included shots exchanged over social media earlier in the season, and contact a week earlier at the Bristol short track that left Logano spinning into the wall. The two were battling for the victory on the final lap at Fontana when they made contact, sending Hamlin's car down into the inside wall and allowing third-place runner Kyle Busch to win the race.
Hamlin was examined Tuesday by Charlotte-area neurologist and spinal specialist Dr. Jerry Petty, who determined that the driver would not need surgery but would have to be out of the car for at least six weeks. NASCAR takes this weekend off, and the Sprint Cup Series returns to action May 7 on the short track at Martinsville. If Hamlin keeps to his recovery timetable, he would miss five races and return May 11 at Darlington.
Penske told the AP Wednesday that he was unsure what Hamlin and Logano said to one another in their text messages. He also did not believe the contact on the race track Sunday was retaliatory. Sprint Cup director John Darby said Tuesday that experts would likely examine the wall Hamlin hit to see if changes need to be made.
"These guys are racing hard, and it's the last lap and it's just the way the cars got together," Penske said. "The way Denny hit the wall was very unfortunate. ? It's never good to have a driver out for a period of time."
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FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Joey Logano
- Denny Hamlin
- Roger Penske