BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin pulled out of Sunday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway with a neck injury he says occurred before rain halted the event.
Hamlin told The Associated Press he felt something strain in his neck 12 laps into the race. The event was stopped after 22 laps for rain, and when drivers were told to return to their cars, Hamlin turned his seat over to Erik Jones.
Hamlin says the pain is so extreme, he would not have been competitive. He also felt the best move for Joe Gibbs Racing was to allow Jones, one of their development drivers, to get some seat time.
Jones has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series before. The 18-year-old raced to his first career Xfinity Series victory last week at Texas.