Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin will return to Sprint Cup action this Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, but he is expected not to run the full race. Hamlin has been sidelined since suffering a compression fracture in his lower back following a last-lap crash at Auto Club Speedway last month, but the Virginia racer tweeted this morning that he has been cleared to start the Aaron’s 499 at NASCAR’s biggest track.
“I can not wait to get back in car.. The smell of fuel and tires Ahhh,” Hamlin tweeted later on.
Going into last weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway, Hamlin indicated that his doctors were okay with him starting the Talladega event before handing over the car to his substitute driver, Brian Vickers.
Such a switch can be done under yellow without losing a lap at Talladega thanks to its 2.66-mile length, and because Hamlin will start the race, he’ll earn all the points that Vickers collects with his finish. Hamlin has fallen to 28th in the Sprint Cup standings as a result of his injury, and is targeting a full return to action at Darlington Raceway on May 11.
Vickers’ name is currently listed as driver of Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing machine on the Talladega entry list.