Telling a racer to slow down isn't easy. Especially a race-car driver accustomed to traveling at speeds of 190 mph.
And backing down wasn't an easy concept for Denny Hamlin to grasp. Then he discovered how severe the consequences from his grim wreck at Auto Club Speedway on March 24 might have been.
Hamlin, 32, suffered a compression fraction to his L1 vertebra.
"I'm thankful that my spine fractured where it did, and not up here," he said, motioning above the spot in his lower back where the fracture is. "Because, obviously, that could be very bad. The bone of my spine -- if it didn't somehow just slice right through it -- if it would had shifted and sliced my spinal cord, you have paralysis. And that's real."
Hamlin was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center after the accident. Although he was able to walk out of the hospital the next day, it didn't prepare him for what was ahead. His follow-up visits with NASCAR medical liaison Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina NeuroSurge...