Found May 03, 2013 on
For Denny Hamlin, coming off the bench and jumping back in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car couldn't come soon enough.
Late Thursday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Hamlin, 32, would return to the No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota this weekend.
As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Hamlin was on a flight bound for Talladega Superspeedway, site of Sunday's Aaron's 499, after missing the last four races due to injuries sustained at Auto Club Speedway on March 24. A little after 2 p.m. ET, he was on the track for practice.
For crew chief Darian Grubb, the game plan is to make his driver's return as comfortable as possible.
"We're going to sit down once he gets here and see how it goes," Grubb said. "Run a little practice and see how he feels and come up with our plan from there.
"I'm thrilled to have him back, healthy and free and clear. Now, it's just up to him and his strength and see how he feels as he goes along. We've been really itching to get him back. The last couple of weeks, he thinks he's ready, he feels he's ready and now the doctors have said he is and we can't wait to get him into the car. We've got our guy back."
Brian Vickers will be standing by for Hamlin. Vickers subbed in the No. 11 Toyota for the last three races at Texas, Kansas and Richmond, His best finish was eighth at Texas. Grubb anticipates Vickers running a few laps in practice on Friday as well to get acclimated with the car.
"We probably will (put Vickers in) at some point to see if the mirrors are good for him and everything in case he does have to get in there," Grubb said. "We're ready to go back and forth."
Grubb didn't seem concerned that the weather could interfere with practice and Hamlin getting back up to speed. Friday's forecast called for a 30 percent chance of rain with that increasing to 80 percent throughout the day.
"We're looking good for practice today," Grubb said. "For tomorrow and qualifying, it doesn't look good at all. I think we'll get some time today either way."
If qualifying is rained out, Hamlin will line up 16th - according to owner points -- for Sunday's race.
BEST OF MAXIM
After missing the last four races with injuries suffered in a horrific crash, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Denny Hamlin has been cleared to return to "on-track activities," Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Thursday.
Hamlin, who sustained a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident with Joey Logano on March 24 at Fontana, has said that despite...
Denny Hamlin received medical clearance Thursday to return this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamlin has missed four races after sustaining a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24.
''Don't call it a comeback - LL cool J,'' Hamlin tweeted.
Joe Gibbs Racing said exact plans will be determined...
Denny Hamlin's desire "to feel speed again"surely made it difficult for him to sleep Friday night.
Just knowing he would climb back in his No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway following a four-race absence became a natural stimulant.
"I understand what makes me a race-car driver because I've been so determined to get back in the car, win lose or...
After four races on the sidelines, Denny Hamlin eligible to race this weekend…
Denny Hamlin's crew chief says he doesn't plan to run the driver much in Friday's practice session at Talladega Superspeedway.
Darian Grubb says Hamlin will turn just a few laps to see how he feels and shake down the car. Then they'll have him get in and out with his helmet on, and anything else NASCAR wants to see from Hamlin.
Brian Vickers will also do one run...
Huntersville, NC - Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin has received medical clearance to return to on-track activity beginning with this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota.
Hamlin was injured during an accident at Auto Club Speedway and has missed the past four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races while recovering.
Denny Hamlin eyes return . . . cautiously...
(Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The big one.
It’s inevitable at Talladega. It can happen on the first lap or coming to the checkered flag. You never know. All we know is … it will happen.
That was the first thing I thought of when Denny Hamlin announced he was going to start his No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at Talladega on Sunday and regular substitute driver...
Hamlin to Return at Talladega: Denny Hamlin will make his return to the #11 FedEx Express Toyota this weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Hamlin missed the last four Sprint Cup Series races while recovering from a back injury sustained in a last-lap incident at Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway on March 24. Exact plans for the FedEx Racing team at Talladega will be determined during...
1. Should Denny Hamlin really return this weekend?
Denny Hamlin will likely start Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, his first since his...
Denny Hamlin started the Aaron’s 499 behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. It was Hamlins first time behind the wheel since a hard last lap crash during the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, CA.
During Hamlin’s time away Mark Martin and Brian Vickers have driven the Joe Gibbs Racing entry. For Sunday’s race Hamlin planned to start...