Well, can’t say we’re surprised, but Joe Gibbs Racing has confirmed Denny Hamlin will miss at least the next six races behind the wheel of their No. 11 Toyota. Dr. Jerry Petty will make the final decision on when Hamlin can return. The good news in all of this bad news is, is that Hamlin will not require surgery.
Any hopes of Hamlin making the Chase for the Sprint Cup are now going to have to rely on making the wildcard by winnings races. Hamlin will miss some tracks he has success at including: Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Richmond, and Talladega. However, there are tracks such as Darlington, Charlotte, and a few others that will come up after that give him a solid chance.
If his injuries heal in time and with the approval of Dr. Jerry Petty, Hamlin could return to the track at Darlington Raceway.
So who will pilot the No. 11 Toyota in his place?
Well first off all, let’s clear this rumor up before we answer that question. It WILL NOT be Kyle Larson. 1) Larson is a developmental driver for Ganassi-Earnhardt Racing. 2) He is also a Team Chevy driver. 3) Joe Gibbs Racing has two solid options between their full-time Nationwide Series drivers.
Brian Vickers would be an obvious guess, however he is already committed to driving the No. 55 for Michael Waltrip Racing at Martinsville. That more than likely choice will be Elliott Sadler for that weekend.
However, Gibbs may ask both drivers to split the time between each other until Hamlin can return to the track as a driver.