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Hamlin could return next weekend at Richmond

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April 20, 2013 03:44 PM EST | AP

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Denny Hamlin could return to the Sprint Cup series next weekend at Richmond for the first time since a crash March 24 at California left him with a compound fracture in his back.

Doctors told Hamlin he would miss at least five races when he suffered the injury in a last-lap accident. But he told reporters on Saturday at Kansas Speedway that there's a chance he could return at his home track, where he's a two-time winner.

If doctors clear Hamlin, it would give his Joe Gibbs Racing team more time to make up ground in the points race and still qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Brian Vickers will start 16th for Sunday's race in the No. 11 Toyota.