Fontana, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Denny Hamlin did not compete in Sunday's 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway due to a sinus infection that is affecting his vision.
Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said during a press conference shortly before the start of the race that Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota for JGR, was taken to a local hospital for observation. Doctors advised him not to compete in this event.
Sam Hornish Jr. replaced Hamlin in the No. 11 car. Hornish had been at this 2- mile Southern California racetrack throughout the weekend on standby for Matt Kenseth, the pole sitter. Kenseth's wife is expecting the couple's next child any day.
"We're just praying [Hamlin] has a quick recovery," Gibbs said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to come home real soon, hopefully tomorrow."
According to Gibbs, Hamlin had been dealing with a sinus infection for a while before symptoms worsened on Friday.
"I think he could still drive, but he was concerned about it and just wanted to make sure it was taken care of," Gibbs added. "The doctor said, 'Hey, you have to do this right away.' Hopefully, it was nothing, but you still have to get it checked out."
Hamlin posted a message on his Twitter account after the race had started, writing, "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."
One year ago at this track, Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower back during an accident on the final lap while battling Joey Logano for the lead and the win. Hamlin missed the next four races and later failed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for the first time in his eight-year Sprint Cup career.