- Associated Press - Sunday, April 7, 2013

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (AP) - Brian Vickers won’t take over the injured Denny Hamlin’s ride until next week at Texas, but when the green flag drops at Martinsville Speedway, Vickers will know what Hamlin is enduring as much as anyone.

Vickers missed most of the 2010 season after having heart surgery and treatment for blood clots.

“The first time you’re not in your car _ you grow up and you watch a lot of races that you’re not in, but not ones that you’re supposed to be in when your car is going around the race track, it’s not going to be an easy thing,” Vickers said, adding that Hamlin does have something going for him that Vickers didn’t when he was sidelined.

“I think the best thing for him right now is knowing that he’s going to get back in the car. The first time I saw my car go around the race track, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get back in it,” he said.

Hamlin suffered a fractured vertebra two weeks ago in a late-race crash at California. He is wearing a back brace and will miss at least five races, and Vickers will drive his car for Joe Gibbs Racing until Hamlin is medically cleared to return.

Hamlin has been at Martinsville Speedway, site of Sunday’s race, all weekend.

Vickers did offer Hamlin some advice, and encouragement.

“I’ve told him that it’s not going to be easy and he’s not going to like it,” Vickers said, “`but at least you know it’s temporary and we’ll see you back soon.’”

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