Denny Hamlin (Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
HUNTERSVILLE – Denny Hamlin's hopes of making the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Chase aren't over.
But those hopes, like Hamlin, took a major blow March 24 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing was battling with rival Joey Logano for the win on the last lap when the two made contact and crashed.
Hamlin hit the inside wall head on, and was diagnosed with an L1 compression fracture – a broken bone in the lower back – Monday afternoon. He finished 25th in the race after winning the pole.
According to JGR officials, Hamlin is expected to undergo tests from renowned racing medical professional Dr. Jerry Petty this week.
It's unknown whether or not Hamlin will miss any races. The last time he missed NASCAR-related action was a January test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway because of his expectant girlfriend. Michael McDowell drove Hamlin's car in the test.
Hamlin ranks 10th in Sprint Cup standings after five races, 54 points behind championship leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The series has one week off for Easter break before returning to action at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway April 8.