Denny Hamlin will be back behind the wheel of his No. 11 car this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, after NASCAR received official confirmation from his doctors that he has been medically cleared to resume regular racing activities.
Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, three days after Hamlin missed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway due to what the team originally termed a vision problem stemming from a sinus infection. According to JGR, it was actually a piece of metal that doctors removed from Hamlin's eye that proved to be the source of his vision issues.
While in Southern California, Hamlin was sent to a local hospital for tests, and upon returning home he met with doctors both Monday and Wednesday. It was following Wednesday's follow-up examination that doctors provided the necessary approval for Hamlin to resume all racing activity without restriction. NASCAR has received official confirmation from his doctors clearing him to resume racing this weekend.
According to JGR, Hamlin first visited the infield care center at Auto Club Speedway this past Saturday night, bothered with irritation in his eye. He returned again on Sunday morning because the condition had worsened, and it was determined by the medical team onsite that he not be allowed to race due to what was believed to be a sinus infection impacting his vision.
Darian Grubb, Hamlin's crew chief, told NASCAR.com at Fontana that the headaches were so severe that Hamlin was holding his head, and that pressure on the driver's left eye left him unable to pass a test in which the subject visually follows a finger being moved horizontally back and forth. Sam Hornish Jr., who races a partial NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for JGR but was only in Fontana in case the wife of Gibbs driver Matt Kenseth went into labor, was pressed into fill-in duty and finished 17th.
While being evaluated at the hospital, doctors found a small piece of metal in Hamlin's eye, according to JGR, and the driver's condition improved immediately after it was removed. A CT scan did not find any further complications, and JGR said the piece of metal is believed to have been the source of Hamlin's vision issues. Hamlin was released from the hospital Sunday night, and received doctor's approval to fly home.
Hamlin, 33, is a 23-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series. The Virginia native is a four-time winner at Martinsville Speedway.