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Dale Earnhardt Jr. questions why so little information has been released on Denny Hamlin’s condition

Mar 26, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants answers – or at the very least, clarification – on why so little information has been released to date on why fellow driver Denny Hamlin missed this past Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Calif.

Hamlin was hospitalized for several hours Sunday with a severe sinus infection that reportedly affected his vision, making him unable to compete in the race.

In a story in USA Today, Earnhardt bemoaned the dearth of information on Hamlin’s condition, claiming this was the first time in his racing career that a driver was essentially pulled from a race so close to the green flag being dropped.

Due to the infection and how it impaired his vision, Hamlin did not receive medical clearance to race at Fontana, which wasn’t announced until during pre-race driver introductions.

“I’m worried the perception is bad for NASCAR and the perception is bad for Denny,” Earnhardt told USA Today.

“If Denny didn’t race because his vision is blurred and he had a sinus infection, NASCAR should put out a release and say, ‘This is the timeline of the events and this is why we made this choice and this is the protocol for going forward.’

“That answers everybody’s questions. Don’t you have questions? I have questions. We shouldn’t have questions. We should all feel pretty comfortable with what happened.”

Sam Hornish Jr. replaced him in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and finished 17th in the race.

RELATED: Hamlin finally speaks — kind of

Earnhardt isn’t accusing Hamlin or JGR of anything surreptitious, but added more information needs to be released to essentially clear Hamlin “of any wrongdoing or pressure or rumors.”

“If Denny did everything right, that’s good to know,” Earnhardt said. “Why NASCAR did the things they did and the timeline, it would be good to know those things because the drivers are all curious and the fans are curious.

“Information is moving around and you’re (hearing) conversations with your friends. It just doesn’t need to be going on. We should all know what happened and know why it happened and be done with it and not have to worry about it.”

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp told USA Today, “Information regarding Denny Hamlin’s health and medical condition should come from Denny and/or Joe Gibbs Racing. As is our policy, Denny will be allowed to return to on track competition after NASCAR receives notification that he has been medically cleared by his physicians to race.”

Hamlin is reportedly still awaiting medical clearance to race this Sunday in NASCAR’s STP 500 Sprint Cup event at Martinsville Speedway.

(UPDATE: Hamlin was cleared Wednesday afternoon to race Sunday at Martinsville.)

Hamlin said on his Twitter account Tuesday night that he would give an update today (Wednesday), choosing not to say anything at the time out of respect for Richard Petty’s wife Lynda, who passed away Tuesday afternoon.

Earnhardt also questioned why NASCAR has not publicly addressed the situation with some form of statement, as well as there being no additional information released about Hamlin either by himself or Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin addressed Earnhardt’s concern with this tweet:

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. manik56 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    It is not normal to go to the hospital for a sinus infection.

    • edmcdou24 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      he was on that stuff!!

    • ness4short - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      I beg to differ. A few years ago, my adult daughter was immediately hospitalized after she saw her ENT due to a sinus infection which had moved to her eyes. There were swollen pockets under her eyes. The doctor was alarmed and would not even let her go home to pack a bag. She was hospitalized for several days with an antibiotic iv drip. Even after she left the hospital, a home health care nurse came to her home daily to administer more iv antibiotics. As best I recall, her treatment lasted about 2 weeks.

      • glear1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        I went through the same thing. I still find it hard to believe to this day what was wrong with me was a severe sinus infection. But it was. People with minor sinus infections can be treated at the doctors office. I had waited to long. Way past minor. It was so severe I actually thought I had brain cancer or something. I do find it hard to believe Dale would go to this length in protest of not knowing the condition of another. It just don’t sound like something he would do. I would think even Dale is aware of the HIPPA Law.

    • griffm60 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:49 AM

      Nascar drivers dance to a different beat, if sight was impaired why would you want him on track being a potential liability to others, sinus infection can be that bad to be treated, trust me

    • winger58 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:23 AM

      That’s an ignorant comment. If you were traveling away from home and came down with a serious sinus infection, where would you go to find a doctor?

      • dutchmaster19 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        Ever hear of the infield care center?

    • ffemtpgal49 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      You have obviously never had a BAD sinus infection, NOR are you a medical professional…if you do not know what you are talking about do not comment! Sinus infections can be very serious if left untreated.

  2. chad4208 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    yep….NASCAR lies, like any governing body. and I bet Cali wasnt really sold out. Did you see all the empty seats? Way too many that they were all just making a beer run

    • edmcdou24 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      you were so right…I was looking at the coverage and there was no way it was sold out….

  3. convincedofthehex - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    HIPPA, the Federal law governing medical records prevents Nascar from releasing info. Only the patient can do it, unless he agrees to it. The major sports with unions have collectively bargained to allow the release of info, primarily to not give gamblers the upper hand with knowledge the public doesn’t have. I love keyboard cowboys who think they have the right to know everything.

    • mpzz - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      The other drivers have the right to know if Hamlin is racing half-blind.

      • jimatmad - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        Except Hamlin wasn’t racing. At that point the other driver have a right to know absolutely nothing.

      • ffemtpgal49 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        If he is half-blind he would not be cleared to race!!!! And it is NO ONE’s business but Hamlin’s as to WHAT his medical condition is unless there is a chance he could have spread something (which is usually NOT the case with a sinus infection!) Hamlin did the right thing going to the hospital….I believe NONE of these drivers would put the rest of the field in danger by driving when they knew they were not well.

      • cmehearme - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Uh, mpzz, they wouldn’t let him race-NASCAR made the judgement after a check of his sight. It didn’t become a “medical record” until he visited the doctor.

    • lpenguin13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      First, it’s HIPAA but even the pharmacy at most places post this error.
      H ealth I nsurance P ortability and A ccountability A ct

  4. douglasbruce40 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    The mystery sinus infection and the race long then released hospital stay makes it look like Denny is afraid of Fontana after the broken back last year. The lack of info only intensifies that suspicion. Be truthful Denny, JGR, and NASCAR.

    • mitchellwall - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      So, now that they have removed a piece of metal from one of his eyes, do you still think he’s afraid ? Gimmie a break…

  5. calbrown6 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:38 PM


    • motoxtam - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      Why are you yelling about this? You don’t have to use all caps to make your point.

  6. calbrown6 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:43 PM


    • jobber33 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      He wants to know if Denny was pulled for using drugs so they don’t get on the track with someone that is impaired by illegal drugs. Or maybe a serious infection that might be spread around thru the garages that might be more then the chief assclowns of nascar or jgr aren’t sharing with the other drivers.

      • usagirl1 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        @jobber33 – You do know that a sinus infection is not contagious, right?

    • mpzz - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      Learn how to use the keys on your keyboard.

      • bouncerquinn - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        usagirl1, that is provided that it actually is a sinus infection. The point is that the drivers don’t know what is going on. They have a right to know who they are going to be racing against. It also effects the book making on races, so it is valid that the public have the information, to keep it fair.
        You wouldn’t want the Kenyucky Derby allowing an owner to hide his horses injury information from the public. If he pulled his horse just before a race, the public could lose $millions to these unscrupulous bookmakers. If the injury was nothing more than boil on it’s ass, the public would have been unfairly led to believe that the favorite might not even race or worse yet be a last second scratch.

    • mitchellwall - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      calbrown6, your not very bright, are you ??

  7. way2gosassy - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    I can understand Denny not releasing any information on Tuesday in deference to the Petty family and their terrible loss. I hope he gets better soon, I have dealt with sinus infections myself and I know how painful they can be. I agree with Dale on this one though, he should have released something on Monday to let his fans know that he will be ok.

    • ffemtpgal49 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      That is IF he knew on Monday he would be ok…NO ONE but Denny and his confidants know what the infection is, how long it is anticipated it will take to clear, and when he will be ok…if his vision was impaired and it was left untreated for too long he could have irreversible damage…that takes time to know….again, there is a FEDERAL LAW (HIPPA) which forbids anyone from disclosing healthcare information without the consent of the person it is about, and it is NO ONE’s business…a physician is not going to give him he clearance to drive, much less to race, unless his vision is restored….for all you know he may be afraid his vision won’t clear and has every right NOT to go public…
      Tell you guys what….let’s make every one of yours health histories public, in full detail…if you don’t like that idea then think again about what you are saying….
      I am glad Dale Jr wants to stop rumors, but he has no right demanding answers…a simple “He is in stable no-life-threatening condition” should suffice…be glad he spoke up and did choose to race with a sinus infection that can easily be painful enough to distract your concentration and was obviously bad enough to cause vision problems.

    • revd4s - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      I knew on race day that it was indeed a sinus infection, so why all the questions about it now?

  8. Jesse - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Worry about your own driving, leave Hamlin’s personal medical issue to him, it’s none of your business, even if you think it is!

  9. tedlucier - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    I liked Dale better when he was quiet and seemed more wise than most.

    • griffm60 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:04 AM

      I think Dale feels he is helping Hamlin, because of all the rumors flying around and it would have been better for Denny and nascar to have given a press release asap, but I agree it’s not helping Dale’s image

  10. indycarseries500 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Piece of metal in the eye, not surprising considering all the grinding, etc. going on in the garage area.

    • mpzz - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      You need to point out this is from Hamlin’s medical release, clearing him to race this weekend. Metal was removed with no complications.

  11. bell1571 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    It had been reported in the local press that Denny and his bride had purchased Jeremy Mayfield’s old house at Sheriff’s sale. My conclusion is that he probably got into some illegal toxic substance leftover from Jeremy and his family. We will know the rest of the story once NASCAR releases toxicology reports. Should Denny have to enter NASCAR’s rehabilitation program, JGR will replace him with Michael Waltrip until Denny successfully completes the program.

    • thetooloftools - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      Turn in your intelligence card.

      • mitchellwall - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        That nitwit never had one…

  12. william1939 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Wake up people. If the individual or family doesn’t want health information released Doctors and hospitals cannot release it. It’s the law.

    • thetooloftools - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Jr. would never think that or ask questions… just make stupid comments.
      He should apologize.

  13. jimmy5fingers - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Well, Dale, there is this thing called the HIPAA Law, and it’s none of your damn redneck business!

  14. firedoc5 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    If you get a serious enough sinus infection it can cause vision problems, equilibrium problems, trouble hearing, even neck pain, not to mention the head ache. If it is serious enough to be hospitalized then it’s GOT to be bad. I’ve had four major and two minor sinus surgeries, two of them to remove infected scar tissue and abnormal bone growth all due to having molar tooth abscess.
    But if you let a sinus infection go long enough it can get into the brain. As a Paramedic I had seen pics of it. So a sinus surgery is usually taken seriously.
    Sure, if caught early enough, a round of antibiotics for a week to ten days. So I’d say Denny had to be in misery to bring it up and have a doc take an x-ray of it. It’s good he did. I know drivers tend to be type A personalities and rarely complain. But if he had drove, he might have been a danger due to bad vision and the other signs and symptoms I mentioned earlier.

  15. worknman24hours - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Hamlin took a hell of a whack into a wall last year

    Without a doubt, the doctors added that into the possible complications Hamlin might have been put through if he were cleared to race.

    This is a different NASCAR and had NASCAR been this way when Dale Sr. was racing, he may well have not been cleared to race with the numerous back and neck injuries he raced with and might have not raced with loose belts from pain and be alive today.

    I don’t need to know the full extent of why Hamlin did not race.

    His not fighting it and the doctors matter of fact way of reporting it tells me that Denny is safe to race today and that’s all that matters to me.

    • griffm60 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      Well said, I respect Junior a lot I am just not sure why all the questions

  16. felipe carlos - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    I used to think medical matters were private. If Denny wasn’t medically cleared to race, that should be all we really need to know. NASCAR is turning into a bunch of drama queens…

  17. rowdyjay - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    So once again stupid people making stupid comments. There not one dr on here so heres how it is. The metal in his eye could give u a symptoms of an infection. Plus get this are u ready. Here it is. You do go to the hospital if an infection is bad enough. Dale and his gf most importantly his gf has no merrit in nascar need to know nothing denny wasnt in the car. Its called game time descision. He get laid for the first time in forty years and now he thinks his opinion matters. Hes our kyle petty. Living off of daddys name.

  18. basedrum777 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Am i missing something here? Why does a competitor need to know why another competitor missed a race? Its not like there is a benefit to the standings or otherwise for something like missing a race. Is Dale just trying to get under Hamlin’s skin or something? Does he think its more likely drug related and worried about future races? Confusing… (And I like Jr as a JG fan).

  19. aug99 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:38 AM


  20. keifer1751 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Junior – You are not Denny’s mother. Shut up and do your job.

  21. glear1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    This is how bad a severe sinus infection can be. It happened to me. Never had one in my life before. I knew something was wrong but I just couldn’t figure out what. As the days went by I started to forget half the things I was going to do in the day. I actually drove over to one of my homes and on the way could not recall where it was. That vision thing, i guess is what I noticed first. My vision was effected but I could still see pretty well. It was sort of scary, couldn’t recall things people had said, where I was going after I was on my way. Went to the hospital and was treated for a severe sinus infection. I did not believe that’s what it was at first. But once on antibiotics I started feeling better right away. This is absolutely true.

  22. printergonebad - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    This hack is so desperate for readers he keeps this alive two days after The thing has been resolved. NBC SPORTS you made a bad hire fix it before you look as foolish as your competitor

  23. driverwon - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Hey Jr.ya know what . Get over it. protocol was followed. What do you want a Mommy`s note is that it. Well to bad Your not getting one.I dont hear anyone else asking for one. Your not special . All that burnt rubbers going to your head boy.

  24. theracefan - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    I hope Jr is ready to pay Brain Dead France a bundle for questioning the great NASCAR.

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