Denny Hamlin not returning to car at Richmond

Denny Hamlin will not make his return to the No. 11 at Richmond on Saturday night.

Hamlin had expressed optimism at Kansas that he could be cleared to drive at his hometown track, but after conferring with doctors, the decision was made for Hamlin to wait at least another week before coming back.

"Unfortunately I won't be racing this weekend at Richmond. It kills me to not be in the car for my team and sponsors but after long discussions with the doctors we have decided to wait on my return back to racing. Thanks to all of my fans who have sent encouraging messages over the last month. I'll be back in no time," Hamlin tweeted.

After sustaining a compression fracture to his L1 vertebra in a last lap crash March 24 at California, Hamlin was initially diagnosed to be out of the car five races, a six-week span that penciled his return in at Darlington on May 11. However, Hamlin has said that the healing process is going well and has talked about his desire to at least start the May 5 race at Talladega before getting out of the car for a relief driver. Because of Talladega's size and it's nature of racing, that's scenario a logical option if Hamlin is cleared to race.

Brian Vickers will continue to be behind the wheel in Hamlin's absence.

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