Denny Hamlin out with infection

ByJoe Breeze via ESPN logo
Sunday, March 23, 2014

FONTANA, Calif. -- Denny Hamlin will miss the Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday with a sinus infection that is affecting his vision.

So disappointed that I can't compete today. Sorry to all my fans. Thought we had a car that could win today. Good luck to @SamHornish

- Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 23, 2014"We hate it for him," Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs told reporters about a half-hour before the scheduled start of the Auto Club 400. "He's been so good for us, JGR, over the years. We're just praying he has a quick recovery."

Gibbs said Hamlin was being taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution. Gibbs said Hamlin has been dealing with sinus issues for a while, but that symptoms have worsened.

"Hopefully he'll be able to come home real soon -- hopefully tomorrow," Gibbs said. "Hopefully it's nothing, but you got to get it checked out."

Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 11 Toyota in Hamlin's absence.

It's yet another setback for Hamlin at the California racetrack. In last year's Auto Club 400, Hamlin hit an inside retaining wall hard on the final lap and was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the lower back. He missed the next four races. He has finished 25th or worse in four of his previous six Fontana races, including three DNFs.

Hamlin entered the weekend seventh in the Cup standings with a pair of top-10s, including a runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500.