Denny Hamlin expects to be fit enough to complete Saturday night's Sprint Cup series race at Daytona after skipping both practice sessions.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said Thursday at Daytona that he has dealt with back issues for a few years already and revealed he suffered from a stiff back following last week's race at Kentucky.
Hamlin was scheduled to drive in both the Nationwide and Cup races this weekend, but now he plans to focus on his Cup effort, leaving Clint Bowyer to drive his Nationwide entry. He has skipped all on-track activity thus far but plans to qualify and race his No. 11 Toyota on Friday and Saturday.
"There are some torn discs and there's some bulging discs," said Hamlin, currently fifth in the Cup points. "There's a lot of different things that's just happened over time, and it's just gotten progressively worse.
"I noticed – Kentucky is not the smoothest of racetracks that we've gone to, and with our aggressive setups nowadays, evidently took its toll on us and the next day it got real tight by the end of the day, and then I sat down for dinner and couldn't get up.
"I've had a history of back spasms now for probably four years and it just flared up again. This is about as bad as it was at its worse in 2008 or so. I'm just now starting to get mobile again and being able to get around. We don't want to set any of that back by sitting down any longer than I have to."
Hamlin said his basketball and golf routines may have also worsened his back problems and admitted he is likely to stop both for some time. However, he doesn't anticipate the issue hampering his racing any further while an imminent surgery is not in the plans either for the time being. The 31-year old says thus far his team has no plans to have any driver on standby for him during Saturday's race.
"I don't plan on having a relief driver," he said. "I think that if something were to happen, and I didn't feel well, there'd be somebody around that could help, but don't plan on having anyone. I do plan on starting and really, I could probably do it today if I had to, but it's not race day. I'm going to have two more days before I really have to get in and go."
Back in 2010 Hamlin started the season with a torn ligament on his right knee, which required surgery a couple of months later. He then recovered to finish a career-best runner-up in the standing to five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.