Denny Hamlin is unsure of his status for the season-opening Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum on February 4, 2024, after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder earlier this month.
The 43-year-old racer, whose right arm remains in a sling eight days post-op, spoke to media members before the NASCAR Awards banquet on Thursday, breaking down how his recovery has unfolded, and his concerns about racing in the pre-season exhibition event.
Referencing a surgery on his left shoulder in November 2019, Hamlin said he was more-or-less expecting the recovery time to be similar — about three to four weeks – but that hasn’t been the case, thus far.
“It just changes some things and, probably, the first laps on track will be whatever we do in February. Do we need to analyze the Clash? Maybe when the time comes because from what I’ve heard, they don’t want me loading it for three months. Obviously, That timeline does not line up.”
Hamlin said that the injury was a bone spur and tendon damage in his right shoulder, which eventually caused grinding on his rotator cuff, an injury that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver says made a significant impact in the car.
“It was painful. There were many times where if you asked me to flip on a switch, I can’t reach it, I can’t touch it. We were certainly up against the odds,” said Hamlin. “One thing is, I didn’t want to use this as any kind of excuse for not making the final or anything like that. I think that really our performance was as good as it possibly could have been on track. I did everything I could to succeed. We just didn’t get it done.”
Then, upon visiting Las Vegas for the Formula One event, a couple of weeks following the conclusion of the NASCAR Cup Series campaign, Hamlin tore two tendons and had surgery shortly thereafter.
With more than two months before Hamlin would need to strap into his Joe Gibbs Racing entry, the Chesterfield, Virginia native says that there’s still lots of time for him and his doctor to assess the progress of his recovery, and make an informed decision on if racing in the Busch Light Clash is feasible.