Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower spine during a last-lap crash while racing for the win against former teammate Joey Logano, and Joe Gibbs Racing gave no indication Monday how long its driver could be sidelined.
"I just want to go home," Hamlin tweeted from a hospital in Southern California. He later posted a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up and appeared to be wearing a back brace.
The team said he had what is called an L1 compression fracture; essentially, the first vertebra in the lumbar section of his spine collapsed. Hamlin was expected to be released from the hospital Monday and return to North Carolina to be evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates.
NASCAR does not race this weekend, but returns to action April 7 at Martinsville Speedway, where Hamlin has four victories.
Hamlin was airlifted from the Fontana track after a collision with Logano on the penultimate turn sent him nearly head-on into the inside wall. Logano managed to finish third despite wrecking into the outside wall after hitting Hamlin, who spun Logano last week at Bristol and sparked a bitter post-race confrontation.
"He probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets," Logano said Sunday after the race won by Kyle Busch.
On Monday, Logano’s car owner said the driver was unaware of Hamlin’s condition when he made the comment during a television interview.
"That’s a tough thing, Joey had no idea what the situation was with Denny when he was doing the interview," Roger Penske said. "It’s one of those things that came out and taken out of context isn’t what he meant. He can’t take it back, but people are certainly blowing that up to mean something different than what he knew at the time."
Tony Stewart also got into a post-race shoving match with Logano, who aggressively blocked Stewart on a late restart. Stewart claimed Logano threw a water bottle at him when he approached, but crews separated the two before it turned into a full fight.
Stewart later railed against the 22-year-old Logano in several interviews and accused him of being "nothing but a little rich kid that’s never had to work in his life."