Published August 30, 2013
Denny Hamlin acknowledged on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Thursday night that he injured his right hand in the same eight-car accident on Lap 448 in which Martin Truex Jr. fractured his wrist last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"Oddly enough I have the same injury as Martin," Hamlin told radio host Claire B. Lang. "I've got a splint on my right hand, right on my right thumb right there where he broke his bone. Mine's all black and blue. I guess we had the same thing happen. His was obviously worse.
"I couldn't get my finger out of the wheel quick enough before it spun, and obviously kinda took some ligaments with it. So I feel his pain, and it's going to be tough. I tested on Monday and Tuesday at Chicago and I couldn't put my thumb on the wheel, so that's something that he's gonna have to fight over these next six or seven weeks or so while it is healing."
Hamlin compared the sensation of the wheel spinning to "a heavy duty fan," which is why drivers lift their hands from the wheel as opposed to trying to control it.
"We both were gripping the wheel and you can see on his in-car replay (Truex) didn't get his hands out of the wheel before it started, you know, the wheel got spun out of his hand while he was hitting something," Hamlin added. "And mine did the same daggone thing. So bad luck just continues to follow us."
His problems began at Bristol last March with his run-in with Joey Logano. That rivalry continued the following race at Fontana, when Logano wrecked his former teammate and sidelined Hamlin for four races.
The accident also exacerbated Hamlin's chronic back problems. Despite returning to action at Talladega Superspeedway, with the exception of a second-place finish at Darlington and a fourth-place run the following week at Charlotte, Hamlin posted one finish (eighth) better than 18th in the subsequent 12 races.
The damage to his hand is the latest blow to the 32-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who is currently 25th in the point standings and hasn't won since his victory in New Hampshire last September.
Although Hamlin has experienced a similar injury in the past, he understands his wrist will "get better."
"It's not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it really can affect how you grip the steering wheel," Hamlin said. "It's just a major jam for mine, more ligament stuff. Mine will heal in no time, probably a week or so.
"Martin's obviously got a fracture that's going to be six weeks, is what usually a bone takes to heal. It's just different severities of it. Obviously Martin's in a big points battle now in the Chase so this is definitely not coming at the right time for him."
Truex was fitted with a special cast earlier this week. Michael Waltrip Racing has yet to determine whether Truex, who is currently 14th in the point standings but first in line for a wild card spot in the Chase, will have a fill-in standing by this weekend at Atlanta.