May 2, 2013, 9:04 PM EST
He’s back. Officially.
Denny Hamlin posted two tweets on Thursday – a simple smiley face for the first, and “Don’t call it a comeback –LL Cool J,” for the second – ahead of official confirmation from NASCAR and doctors that he had been cleared to start at Talladega this weekend.
Earlier in the week, Hamlin projected he’d be back before official clearance, which was needed. He’s been sidelined since Joey Logano and he made contact at Auto Club Speedway at the end of March, with a fractured vertebrae.
Mark Martin (Martinsville) and Brian Vickers (since) have been the replacements in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Vickers will be ready on stand-by to take over from Hamlin if and when he’ll exit the car at Talladega; neither Vickers nor Martin will be aboard Michael Waltrip‘s No. 55 Toyota they usually share. That duty falls to Waltrip himself this weekend.