Denny Hamlin hit the wall head-on Sunday. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin left Loma Linda University Medical Center on Monday night, walking out despite a fractured lumbar vertebra he suffered in a frightening crash Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.

“I was in big trouble,” Hamlin told USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, speaking with difficulty and wearing a brace for the L1 compression fracture. “The position I was in, I couldn’t breathe at all. I’m still having a hard time breathing. Literally, when I felt a pop, I couldn’t move at all and I knew I had to get flat to my back to be able to breathe again. That’s why I rushed out and just laid flat on the ground to start breathing again.”

Hamlin, who was returning to his North Carolina home, was hurt when he and Joey Logano bumped on the last lap as they battled for the lead in the Auto Club 400. Hamlin’s car struck an inner wall, which had no SAFER (steel and foam energy reduction) barrier to help cushion the head-on collision.

Immediately after the race, Logano, who has been involved in a feud with Hamlin since the Daytona 500, said that Hamlin “probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week [at Bristol], so that’s what he gets.” On Monday, though, he told USA Today that he didn’t intentionally wreck Hamlin and wasn’t aware of his injury when he spoke Sunday.Hamlin, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, will have further tests to determine whether surgery is needed. On Monday afternoon, Hamlin tweeted, “I just want to go home.” A little later, he added a photo:


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Hamlin has L1 compression fracture

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