Denny Hamlin cleared to drive at Martinsville after missing race at Fontana

Denny Hamlin cleared to drive at Martinsville after missing race at Fontana

Denny Hamlin has been medically cleared to drive at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday after missing the Auto Club 400 because of issues with his vision.

Hamlin had a sinus infection, which was initially stated as the culprit for his eye issues. However, Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement Wednesday that Hamlin had a small piece of metal in his eye that has been removed.

Sam Hornish Jr. filled in for Hamlin and finished 17th.

"During the evaluation at the hospital a small piece of metal was also found to be in Hamlin’s eye. Doctors were able to remove the sliver of metal and Hamlin felt immediate improvement to his condition," The JGR statement said. "A CT Scan did not find any other complications and thus it is believed that the metal was actually the source of Hamlin’s vision issues. He was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon and was given the doctor’s approval to fly home."

Hamlin visited a Charlotte-area doctor on Monday and Wednesday and was subsequently approved.

It's the second time Hamlin has missed races because of medical reasons in the past two seasons. And coincidentally, Auto Club Speedway has been involved each time. Last year, Hamlin missed four races with a lower-back compression fracture after he crashed into an inside wall on the final lap while racing Joey Logano for the win at Auto Club Speedway.

If Hamlin wins a race or is high enough in points to qualify, he will be eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. NASCAR said Sunday that Hamlin would be covered by the medical exemption built into the new Chase rules that applies to a driver who isn't able to attempt all 26 pre-Chase races.

Martinsville is one of Hamlin's best tracks. He has an average finish of 8.1 and has four wins in 16 starts at the half-mile track.


- - - - - - -

Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!