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Denny Hamlin was taken to the infield care center after plowing into the wall with a flat right front tire. / Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports

SPARTA, Ky. - Denny Hamlin, who has made several visits to speedway medical centers in what has been a difficult season, apparently escaped injury Sunday when his car lost a tire and slammed into the outside wall at Kentucky Speedway.

Hamlin, who endured a similar incident with a right front tire early in the Quaker State 400, drove his car into the garage.

He complained of a headache and asked for a ride to the infield medical center, where he was examined and released after a 20-minute stay.

There were early fears that the hard meeting with the wall might have reinjured Hamlin's back, which he fractured early in the season during a crash at Fontana. Hamlin hit an infield wall without a SAFER barrier, causing him to miss four races.

"My back feels good," Hamlin said. "About the same as it did this morning. That was the least of my concerns. I had to take a moment when I got out of the car to kind of gather my thoughts. I didn't feel all that great. The medical staff came and checked me out, and we came here. Everybody did what they should have. I believe in the NASCAR medical staff. This is what we do."

Hamlin blew a tire earlier in the race - a piece of the debris flew off his car and hit the fronts of the cars of then-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson - but he was running in the top 10 until his second blowout.

The No. 11 slammed the wall hard - fortunately, at a spot where there was a SAFER barrier - and Hamlin told his team he had "other issues" aside from just his steering.

"Got my bell rung. We'll be fine. I feel a lot better now than I did just 10 minutes ago," Hamlin said after exiting the infield care center. "Any time you get flat up against the wall you deal with issues and headaches and things like that. But it's gone away and everything seems to be good now."

Hamlin said he plans to run tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday as scheduled. Team owner Joe Gibbs said Hamlin will be evaluated by a doctor at Indianapolis before he gets on the track, but Gibbs said he doesn't expect any issues.

The Sprint Cup Series races there in the Brickyard 400 on July 28.

Hamlin finished 35th Sunday but remained 25th in Sprint Cup points. He is 150 points out of the top 10 and 104 out of 20th. With nine races remaining before the Chase cutoff, his chances of qualifying for the championship run are slim.

"I felt pretty good about the way we were running today," Hamlin said. "With the right track position, we could run with just about anybody except for maybe the 48 (Johnson). We're just going to try to win races. That's my job for the rest of the year ?? to try to win races and do the best I can for my sponsors and my team."

Hamlin compared the hit to one he took at Kansas during a test in October 2012.

"You really picked up a lot of speed off four here. This one just blew out solid and quick and lost steering.

"I'd rather hit head-on than flat against one of these walls."

Hamlin's girlfriend, Jordan Fish, thanked fans for their concern on Twitter after Hamlin was released from the care center.

"DH is feeling better," Fish tweeted. "Was a lil shuck up after initial hit. Complained of headache and knee. Headache is virtually gone. Thanks for concern."

Follow Mike Hembree on Twitter @mikehembree and Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Denny Hamlin says he 'got bell rung' after crash

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