Denny Hamlin promised Tuesday that the following day he’d give his side of what happened that caused him to miss this past Sunday at Fontana.
We’re still waiting, now two days later.
Hamlin tweeted Tuesday night that he was holding off saying anything about missing Fontana out of respect due to the death earlier that day of Richard Petty’s wife of 55 years, his beloved Lynda.
But Wednesday came and went and no comment from Hamlin. In fact, one of the more active drivers on Twitter, he hasn’t had a public tweet on his account since Tuesday, either.
The only thing we heard was Wednesday’s press release from Joe Gibbs Racing that Hamlin had been medically cleared to race in this Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Martinsville.
It was initially reported Sunday that Hamlin missed the race due to a sinus infection that affected his vision, and that he was not cleared by doctors to race.
Wednesday, JGR revealed that Hamlin’s vision issue was caused instead by a metal sliver in his eye which was removed at a Fontana-area hospital.
Finally, late Thursday afternoon, we heard from Hamlin – kind of.
The weekly media release for Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry team had one lengthy answer from the four-time Martinsville winner, but still nothing about Fontana.
When asked if was “eager to get back in the car at Martinsville, one of your best tracks,” Hamlin had this to say:
“It crushed me last week not being able to compete for the guys on the FedEx team. I definitely have extra motivation this weekend at Martinsville, a place that has been a pretty good track for our team over the years.
“Obviously, with my injury last year (missed four races, including Martinsville, after a serious wreck at Fontana), I missed the race one year ago, and we were a little off last fall (started from the pole, finished seventh).
“But, I’m confident that we will be able to run up front and compete for the win this weekend. I’m feeling better and can’t wait to get back in the car on Friday for practice.”
Hamlin has been nothing short of outstanding at Martinsville during his Sprint Cup career. In 16 starts, he has four wins (including three in a row from 2009-2010) and has finished in the top-10 13 times.
The team has not said whether a stand-by driver will be on hand for Hamlin at Martinsville as a precautionary measure. Sam Hornish Jr. was pressed into service with less than an hour before the starting green flag to replace Hamlin at Fontana this past Sunday and finished 17th.
Hamlin’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch won the race.
It’s likely Hamlin will finally open up about what occurred at Fontana, and hopefully explain how he picked up that mysterious metal sliver, in his weekly press availability Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway.
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