FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Denny Hamlin missed Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway with a sinus infection that led to vision problems.
Hamlin was ruled out of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota about 30 minutes before the green flag at the track where he crashed on the final lap of last year's race.
"It's not just a headache. It's a lot more serious than that. He was actually losing vision his eye," crew chief Darian Grubb told MRN.com and NASCAR.com after Sunday's race.
Hamlin was released from a hospital after the race ended. He will be evaluated again in the next week back home in Charlotte.
Sam Hornish Jr. finished 17th as the late replacement in the No. 11 car for Hamlin, who had hoped for redemption at Fontana after leaving being airlifted away from the track with a broken vertebra last year.
"So disappointed that I can't compete today," Hamlin said in a post on his Twitter account. "Sorry to all my fans. Thought we had a car that could win today."
Hamlin was not medically cleared by a NASCAR doctor to race and was told to go to the hospital, team President J.D. Gibbs said.
Although team owner Joe Gibbs said after the race Hamlin was still undergoing tests and he didn't know when they'd have results, Grubb told the two media outlets after the race that Hamlin was still hospitalized.
"The last I'd heard, his vision was getting worse and the pain was getting worse," Grubb told the two media outlets. "It got to where he couldn't see and was having trouble with the vision in his left eye because of the pressure and everything that was going on. At that point, NASCAR did some testing and he could not follow the finger going by his eyes as he should have been.
"They weren't going to let him go."
Hamlin wore dark sunglasses in the indoor driver meeting two hours before the race.
"He held his head and said his head was hurting so bad. He was having trouble seeing," Grubb said. "You could tell the worry in his face, he was really upset."