Denny Hamlin will have to wait at least another week before returning to the track and continue pursuit of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
Hamlin, after having scans on his back on Tuesday, was not medically cleared to climb back into his Joe Gibbs No. 11 Toyota for this weekend's races in Richmond.
The 32-year-old grew up in Chesterfield, Va., about 20 miles from Richmond International Raceway, and he considers RIR his home track where he has two wins and seven top-five finishes in 14
"Unfortunately I won't be racing this weekend at Richmond," Hamlin tweeted. "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."
Hamlin has missed the past three races recovering from a compression fracture in his lower back suffered when he crashed during a dust-up with former teammate Joey Logano on the last lap on March 24 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He was expected to miss six weeks.
Brian Vickers drove for Hamlin at Kansas, finishing 31st and at Texas where he finished eighth. Mark Martin drove for Hamlin at Martinsville, finishing 10th.
Hamlin said he hopes to be cleared to race next week at Talladega Superspeedway.
"Ultimately, it's just a risk thing," Hamlin told ESPN. "I can drive the car as fast as anyone out there by myself. It's taking hits that obviously the risk falls in."
If cleared, Hamlin is confident he can ride around in the back at Talladega and not get in any trouble until the first caution comes out.
He is 26th in points, 42 behind the top 20 where a driver has to be after 26 races to contend for a wild-card spot based on wins.