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Hamlin scratched at Fontana with sinus infection

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm •  Published: March 23, 2014

Hornish is scheduled to drive seven races for Joe Gibbs Racing this season in the Nationwide Series, but he was on hand at Fontana as Matt Kenseth's standby driver as Kenseth awaits the birth of his fourth child.

Hornish and Hamlin are both roughly 6 feet tall, so few adjustments had to be made for the seat or pedals in Hamlin's car. Grubb said the team had no time to change the seat for Hornish, who started last in the No. 11 Toyota and finished 17th.

Hamlin's scratch was a huge disappointment at Fontana for the second straight year.

Hamlin and Logano, his former teammate and unfriendly rival, were racing for the lead down the backstretch on the last lap last year when they collided, sending Hamlin hard into the inside wall. Hamlin got out of his car and collapsed onto the asphalt, and was eventually airlifted to the hospital due to traffic.

Hamlin missed most of five races with a broken vertebra, and the injury left him in back pain for months. After an offseason recovery from his back woes, he had hoped to get back to full strength along with his team this season.

Hamlin was seventh in the points standings headed into Sunday's race and dropped to 11th after sitting out. Drivers can still qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship so long as they qualify their car — as Hamlin did on Friday — or race in every one of the first 26 races.

Either way, Hamlin would receive a medical exemption from NASCAR since he was not cleared to drive by a doctor.