Denny Hamlin wishes he didn't need medical clearance to race.
The 32-year-old NASCAR star drove himself to Richmond International Raceway on Thursday, but was begrudgingly preparing for another weekend watching someone else drive his familiar No. 11 Toyota.
At his hometown track, that was doubly disappointing because the weekend kicked off with two races on Thursday night, including the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown to benefit Hamlin's charitable foundation.
''I'd rather just do it,'' Hamlin said about getting back in the race car. ''Honestly, I know everyone is trying to protect me from myself, but I would have raced at Martinsville two weeks ago.''
Hamlin wasn't cleared to return, however, after a visit Wednesday to Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, and telephone consultations with others. Much of the phone call sounded like a foreign language, Hamlin said, though he did pick up enough to understand things are inexact with injuries such as his,...