Hamlin out 6 weeks with fractured vertebra

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin will be sidelined at least six weeks because of a fractured vertebra sustained in a last-lap crash at California.

Hamlin was evaluated Tuesday by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates. Petty determined the driver will not need surgery, but the L1 compression fracture in his lower back needs a minimum of six weeks to heal.

NASCAR is off this weekend, so Hamlin could miss only five races if the healing process meets Petty's estimate.

Joe Gibbs Racing said no decision has been made on a replacement for Hamlin, who is 10th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

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