Early in the season it was clear 2013 was not going to be Denny Hamlin's year.
A wreck at Fontana on March 24 sidelined the perennial NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup contender for four races but Hamlin, 32, fought valiantly to return to competition.
Still, chronic back pain continues to plague the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. After Hamlin won the pole Friday, it was as if the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway exacerbated the problem.
"My daily life is miserable," Hamlin said. "This is nothing."
Hamlin led twice Saturday night for a total of 23 laps. He remained in striking distance - with the help of pit strategy - until Brian Vickers got into Hamlin, cut his tire and took out seven additional cars.
"We cannot catch a break," Hamlin said. "You've got to laugh at it at this point. It's somewhat humorous."
So was his run-in with Kevin Harvick on pit road during the caution. Without seeing a replay, Harvick drove his mangled modified-looking machine into Hamlin's pit - then laid i...