Fontana 2, Denny Hamlin 0

 Fontana 2, Denny Hamlin 0
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin talks to crew chief Darian Grubb in the garage during a practice session at Auto Club Speedway on Friday. (Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Fontana hasn't been kind to Denny Hamlin the last two years.

Hamlin withdrew from the Auto Club 400 on Sunday when a sinus infection affected his vision, and doctors recommended he not race.


A year earlier, the 33-year-old Virginian suffered a compressed fracture in his lower back when his car collided with Joey Logano's car on the last lap and hit a wall at Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin then missed four races.

Hamlin's team, Joe Gibbs Racing, tapped Sam Hornish Jr. to replace Hamlin on Sunday and Hornish — without having driven even one lap of practice in Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota — finished 17th in the 43-car field.

Hornish, a former Indianapolis 500 winner who migrated to NASCAR stock car racing, already was in Fontana as a potential backup driver for Hamlin's teammate Matt Kenseth, whose wife was expecting a baby.

Logano's long day

After starting at the rear because he was driving a backup car, Joey Logano worked his way into the top five before the race's halfway point Sunday.

But on the 116th lap, Logano's No. 22 Team Penske Ford developed mechanical problems that forced him into the garage for lengthy repairs. He finished 39th.

"I think we had a shot at winning this one," Logano said. "The last two weeks we had a shot at winning and had mechanical issues. Today it was the gear."

Patrick's season-best

Danica Patrick finished 14th, her best finish this season and the first time she has finished in the top 15 this year.

"I don't think we were extremely fast, but we were fast enough to pick them off and move up and have a steady day," said Patrick, who drives the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Tony Stewart, the three-time Cup champion and co-owner of Patrick's team, finished fifth for his second consecutive top-five finish after a slow start in the season's first three races.

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