The April race at Richmond International Raceway suffered a stunning blow on Tuesday when NASCAR announced that Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin, not only one of the sport’s top drivers, but a hometown favorite at RIR, will be out for at least six weeks with a fracture in his back stemming from his wreck Sunday in The Auto Club 400 in California. Hamlin, who has had an on-going feud with Joey Logano both on and off the track, saw his Fed-Ex No. 11 run into the wall head-first, eerily similar to Dale Ernhardt, Sr’s final crash years ago.
Hamlin was airlifted to a local hospital, where he stayed overnight, and discovered the fracture in his back. Following the hard crash, Hamlin got immediately out of his car, but collapsed to the ground in moments. Logano, who has been berated by several drivers in the past few weeks for his driving tactics on the track, and he did little on Sunday to erase that reputation among the other racers. In fact, veteran driver and former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart jumped out of his car and headed straight to Logano’s pit to physically confront the youngster, who had earlier blocked Stewart during the race, to which Stewart took great offense.
NASCAR rolls into Richmond on the final weekend of April with the Sprint Cup race on April 27th. Hamlin, a local hero and Manchester High grad, also runs his charity race yearly here in the Capital City, which attracts many of the sport’s biggest names and huge support from the local fans. With Hamlin’s injury, is the feud now over, or will escalate upon his return. Certainly Tony Stewart vowed it’s not over in his mind, making the drama off the track even more intriguing than the races.