Hamlin expects to be fit to race after skipping practice at Daytona with back issue

Denny Hamlin expects to be fit enough to complete Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona after skipping both practice sessions

Hamlin expects to be fit to race after skipping practice at Daytona with back issue

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said on Thursday at Daytona that he had already dealt with back issues for a few years and revealed he suffered from a stiff back following last week's race at Kentucky.

Hamlin was scheduled to drive in both the Nationwide and Cup races this weekend, but now he plans to focus on his Cup effort, leaving Clint Bowyer to drive his Nationwide entry. He has skipped all on-track activity thus far but plans to qualify and race his #11 Toyota on Friday and Saturday.

"There are some torn discs and there's some bulging discs," said Hamlin, currently fifth in the Cup points. "There's a lot of different things that's just happened over time, and it's just gotten progressively worse.

"Kentucky is not the smoothest of race tracks that we've gone to, and with our aggressive set-ups nowadays, evidently took its toll on us and the next day it got real tight by the end of the day, and then I sat down for dinner and couldn't get up.

"I've had a history of back spasms now for probably four years and it just flared up again. This is about as bad as it was at its worse in 2008 or so. I'm just now starting to get mobile again and being able to get around. We don't want to set any of that back by sitting down any longer than I have to."

Hamlin said his basketball and golf routines may have also worsened his back problems and admitted he is likely to stop both for some time. However, he does not anticipate the issue hampering his racing any further and surgery is not in the plan either for the time being.

The 31-year old says so far his team has no intention of having any driver on standby for him during Saturday's race.

"I don't plan on having a relief driver," he said. "I think that if something were to happen, and I didn't feel well, there'd be somebody around that could help, but don't plan on having anyone. I do plan on starting and really, I could probably do it today if I had to, but it's not race day. I'm going to have two more days before I really have to get in and go."

Back in 2010 Hamlin started the season with a torn ligament on his right knee, which required surgery a couple of months later. He then recovered to finish a career-best runner-up in the standing to five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Denny Hamlin
Author Diego Mejía
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