Denny Hamlin met with doctors earlier this week and they decided that he should sit out Richmond. Hamlin really wanted to get back in the car this weekend being his home track and how good he is there. If he is cleared to race at Talladega, he’d just start the race and then get out knowing that a vicious 200mph wreck lurks around every corner there. He said in an interview a couple days ago that the longer he stays out the car, the more he is considering getting back surgery and opting to miss the rest of the year.
Denny doesn’t feel it’s worth risking his back and his career if there is no chance to win the championship. Hamlin has missed three races so far and has fallen to 26th in the standings. Missing Richmond will drop him even further and he will find himself outside the top 30 if he isn’t able to grab any points at Talladega. Darlington isn’t exactly the friendliest track to make a return at either.
Since he was forced to vacate the seat, both Mark Martin and Brian Vickers have raced the car posting finishes of 10th, 8th and 31st. The team is 11th in the owner standings and has a good shot of messing with the chase this year marking the first time ever the driver and owner chases have different teams. The #55 is also sitting up in 10th and Phienix Racing isn’t too far behind. With JGR’s penalties regarding the #20, that could also change the lineup because that car number won’t be given any points whatsoever towards the owners title over the next six races.
Recently, NASCAR announced that both Talladega and Daytona will install reinforced catch fencing around their tracks to prevent the near tragedy we saw at Daytona earlier this year. The speedways and NASCAR acted because fans were hurt, well now it’s time to act once again. Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture at Auto Club Speedway simply due to the carelessness of the track deciding not to put any safer barriers there. In the year 2013, there is no excuse why every track’s outside and insides walls aren’t completely covered. How many more crashes like this are we going to have see before they do something?
Denny isn’t the first one to have a vicious hit either. It took the death of Dale Earnhardt to force people to act back in 2001, hopefully we won’t wait that long again. Between 2000 and 2001, four drivers lost their lives in a similar way and we could have prevented three of them if NASCAR did something. We can’t bring Tony Roper, Kenny Irwin Jr., Adam Petty or Dale back but we can stop history from repeating itself. We’ve watched a bunch of drivers hit concrete walls and suffer injuries recently but little has been done about it, don’t let another death force your hand. The tracks need to reach into their deep pockets and spend a little money; do that and you may save lives. Act now and you won’t have to ask why later.