Denny Hamlin cleared to race at Talladega

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He’s back. Officially.

Denny Hamlin posted two tweets on Thursday – a simple smiley face for the first, and “Don’t call it a comeback –LL Cool J,” for the second – ahead of official confirmation from NASCAR and doctors that he had been cleared to start at Talladega this weekend.

Earlier in the week, Hamlin projected he’d be back before official clearance, which was needed. He’s been sidelined since Joey Logano and he made contact at Auto Club Speedway at the end of March, with a fractured vertebrae.

Mark Martin (Martinsville) and Brian Vickers (since) have been the replacements in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Vickers will be ready on stand-by to take over from Hamlin if and when he’ll exit the car at Talladega; neither Vickers nor Martin will be aboard Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 Toyota they usually share. That duty falls to Waltrip himself this weekend.

Recapping the 2018 Dakar Rally with “best of” video highlights

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

As it has done so for four decades, the 40th annual Dakar Rally – the most grueling test of man and machine anywhere – produced a number of surprise finishes and also several disappointments for drivers or riders who were expected to do well in the nearly 5,600-mile trek that began in Peru and continued through Bolivia and ending in Argentina.

NBCSN has aired highlights from all 14 stages (actually 13, because one stage was completely rained out) during the Rally’s two-week run, which concluded Saturday.

Here’s some of the “best of” highlights from the overall Rally highlights, followed by a quick guide that gives you wrapups to all 14 stages.

So, without further adieu, here’s NBCSN’s “best of” the 2018 Dakar Rally:

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of cars

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of bikes

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of trucks

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of quads

Lastly, here’s a day-by-day wrapup of how the Rally played out.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.

MORE: Stage 14 overall Rally wrapup

MORE: Stage 13 wrapup

MORE: Stage 12 wrapup

MORE: Stage 11 wrapup

MORE: Stage 10 wrapup

MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions

MORE: Stage 8 wrapup

MORE: Stage 7 wrapup

MORE: Stage 6 wrapup

MORE: Stage 5 wrapup

MORE: Stage 4 wrapup

MORE: Stage 3 wrapup

MORE: Stage 2 wrapup

MORE: Stage 1 wrapup