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HAMLIN UNDERGOES TESTS TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF PAIN

March 23, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

Hamlin's replacement Sam Hornish Jr. finishes 17th in the Auto Club 400

RELATED: Hamlin misses Auto Club 400 | Hornish Jr. fills in

FONTANA, Calif. – Denny Hamlin was evaluated and released from a local hospital on Sunday. He underwent a CT scan to see what may be causing severe headaches and vision problems his Joe Gibbs Racing team confirmed. He will be further evaluated this week in Charlotte, Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement.

Sam Hornish Jr. substituted behind the wheel of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 because in the hour before the green flag dropped NASCAR did not medically clear Hamlin to compete.

"We do (go forward assuming Denny will be back next week.)," his crew chief Darian Grubb said after the race. "But it's going to be touch and go for right now obviously with him still in the hospital getting a CT scan. Last I heard the vision was getting worse and the pain was getting worse so we're just going to wait and see what happens. Hopefully we'll get some good news this afternoon."

Before the race, JGR President J.D. Gibbs said initially the team thought it was a sinus infection that was causing the headaches and vision issues. But Grubb said it soon became apparent, it may be more serious.

"For him to go to the infield care center, for one thing, it must have been pretty bad for him," Grubb said. "Then it got to where he couldn't see and was having trouble with vision in his left eye with all the pressure that was going on. At that point, NASCAR did some testing and knew he could not follow the finger going by his eyes as he should have been so they knew at that point, they weren't going to let him go.

"It wasn't just a headache, it was more serious than that.

"That's why they're doing the CT scan now. He had them on the whole time and was just holding his head, it hurt him so bad. You could tell by the look on his face he was really worried."

Team owner Joe Gibbs confirmed that Hamlin left the track immediately before the race started and that by late afternoon "they are still running tests. It will be later on before we get results."

Hornish finished 17th in the car -- his first Sprint Cup Series start since April of 2013 at Kansas Speedway.

It marks the second straight year that Hamlin ended his race day hospitalized. He broke vertebrae in his lower back in a last lap accident at Auto Club Speedway a year ago and said this Friday he had circled Sunday's race on the schedule with hopes of redeeming himself with a victory.

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