The 2013 NASCAR season was an unusual one. Three of the top series drivers were sidelined at one point during the season due to injury or illness. Fortunately this is a rare occurrence.
Denny Hamlin was the first NASCAR driver to get sidelined after a bad crash at the Auto Club Speedway with a fractured L1 vertebra. Denny ended up sitting out of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Fed Ex Toyota for four points paying races. He also missed the All Star Race.
Hamlin has had back trouble in the past. It was expected that the addition of the veteran Matt Kenseth to the Joe Gibbs Racing teams was going to help Denny Hamlin contend for the championship. In the end it was Hamlin that contributed to Kenseth’s second place run. Expect to hear talk of Hamlin’s back next season and perhaps the rest of his career.
The next driver to get sidelined was Tony Stewart. Stewart received a compound fracture in his right leg in a Sprint Car race in August at a short track in Iowa. His injury was severe and required multiple surgeries.
Tony Stewart missed the rest of the 2013 season due to his injury. Stewart says he will be well enough to start the 2014 NASCAR season at Daytona but he will miss all preseason practice and testing. Anyone who has broken a bone can attest that being able to walk on it is one thing, but competing athletically is another. Expect to see much discussion on whether or not Stewart can drive a racecar without pain from the centrifugal forces.
Brian Vickers was sidelined for the last 25 races in 2010 due to blood clots and surgery to correct a heart condition. He had a blood clot come back due to a tight boot he wore for his ankle and was sidelined for the last 5 races of the season. This was after being named the fulltime driver of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Arrons Dream Machine.
Just like Denny Hamlin and his recurring back problems, Brian Vickers recurring blood clot will be cause for discussion every time he gets in a crash.
We wish them all well and hope to have our NASCAR stars back on the track for the Daytona 500.