|Denny Hamlin out for a while; future bets still alive, but done....|
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver visited neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty on Tuesday, and Petty determined that Hamlin would not need surgery but would need an “estimated around six weeks time” to heal, according to a JGR news release.
No replacement was immediately announced, although JGR has former Chase competitors Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler on its Nationwide Series roster. Vickers is already signed to run the next Cup race—April 7 at Martinsville Speedway—for Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 55 car.
Sharing that MWR ride with Mark Martin, Vickers is considered one of the top candidates for that car full time in 2014, so it is in his best interest to remain in that seat at Martinsville.
Hamlin has not missed a Cup race since he stepped into the seat of the No. 11 car with seven races left in the 2005 season, a streak of 264 races that will come to an end next week.
After being released from the hospital Monday night, Hamlin had left open the possibility that he could drive at Martinsville, which is arguably his best track on the Cup circuit as he has four of his 22 series wins on the 0.526-mile paper clip-shaped oval.
The decision to sit Hamlin came after the visit with Petty, a NASCAR consultant who will have to clear Hamlin to race. The series is off this weekend, then has points events scheduled for the next seven weeks, meaning Hamlin will miss races at Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Richmond and Talladega before possibly returning May 11 at Darlington.
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