Cup Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, prepares for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2014 in Fontana, California. Hornish is replacing Denny Hamlin who was not cleared to race due to illness.

Published on March 24th, 2014 | by Michael J Smith


Hamlin Misses Auto Club 400

Denny Hamlin developed a sinus infection before the Auto Club 400 that affected his vision. A little over an hour before the race, the decision was made to hold Hamlin out of the car for the race because he couldn’t see well enough to drive. He wasn’t medically cleared to race, and instead¬†went to the hospital for further evaluation.

He was released from the hospital Sunday night.

Joe Gibbs Racing released a statement saying that Hamlin would be further evaluated in Charlotte this week.

Sam Hornish Jr, who in Fontana as a backup to expecting  father Matt Kenseth, drove the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Fontana, bringing the car home in 17th place.

Hornish was talking to his former owner Roger Penske when he started receiving numerous calls and texts from Darian Grubb, the crew chief of the No. 11 Toyota.

Hornish wasn’t expecting to drive in the Auto Club 400, so he didn’t hydrate or eat as well as he would have if he’d known he was racing. He said he drove the race hunched over due to the dimensions of Hamlin’s seat, and his arms were cramping because Hamlin’s steering where was too close to him.

Still, he earned a top 20 despite a bump from Paul Menard as he was running close to the top 10.

Because Hamlin qualified for the race, his eligibility for the Chase is intact because drivers must only qualify for the race; they do not need to start it.

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About the Author

Michael J. Smith is a NASCAR enthusiast and blogger. In addition to founding this website, Michael is a journalist with over a decade of experience writing for prestigious media organizations.

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