Recovery from knee surgery will keep Denny Hamlin from banquet

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Denny Hamlin will not attend Friday’s Sprint Cup banquet in Las Vegas as he recovers from his Monday knee surgery.

Hamlin’s girlfriend, Jordan Fish, shared the news on Twitter this week.

Hamlin injured his anterior cruciate ligament during a pickup basketball game before the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver put off the procedure to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Two races after the injury, Hamlin won the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

It’s the second time in five years Hamlin has suffered an ACL injury while playing basketball. He injured his left knee in the 2010 preseason and delayed the operation until after the sixth race.

Hamlin isn’t the only JGR driver planning for offseason surgery. Kyle Busch, the 2015 Sprint Cup champion, expects to have more surgery in the coming weeks on the foot and leg he injured in the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona.

The Hamlin-less Sprint Cup banquet starts Friday at 9 pm ET on NBCSN.