Chad Knaus Takes Shot at Denny Hamlin Just Days After JGR Driver Harshly Criticized Kyle Larson
Denny Hamlin has been outspoken throughout his NASCAR Cup Series career. His podcast has only amplified his voice. Early this week, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t hold back in his criticism of Kyle Larson, suggesting the 2021 champion’s move on the Bristol dirt where he ran Ryan Preece into the outside wall wasn’t anything new.
A couple of days later Chad Knaus made a guest appearance on NASCAR Race Hub. The Hendrick Motorsports Vice President of Competition didn’t address what happened with Larson and Preece, but he did talk about this upcoming weekend’s race at Martinsville, and couldn’t help but take a shot at the three-time Daytona 500 winner.
Denny Hamlin blames Kyle Larson for Ryan Preece incident
This week on his Actions Detrimental podcast, Denny Hamlin reviewed the race on the Bristol dirt, including the hot topic of discussion — the brewing conflict between Ryan Preece and Kyle Larson. And the 42-year-old didn’t sugarcoat who he thought was to blame for starting it all.
“I watched it. And it looks like Kyle Larson,” Hamlin said. “This is what he does. Kyle’s one of my best friends, but at this point, I have to call out a little bit. Kyle is one of those drivers that puts you in a spot where you have to lift. Raise your hand if this sounds familiar?
“He’s done it to me a few times on a road course. He’ll get tired of me contesting my positions so he’ll just run me off into the grass. He’ll just say, ‘Alright, either you can lift or you’re going through the grass over there.’ And I think that he wanted to get clear of Preece so he just gassed it up and said, ‘Alright, well I’m coming up and you can lift or go into the fence.’ Preece didn’t lift and got drove into the fence.
“Larson’s in the wrong here. Preece stood his ground. Wasn’t going to take getting crowded. Wasn’t going to take being put to a decision of lift or be put in the fence and so when he got back to Larson he gave him the business a little bit. And Larson’s mad because he’s like, ‘Well hey, it was an hour and a half ago. Can’t you just stop being a kid and get over it?’
“Larson wouldn’t get over it. I’ve raced with Larson. He holds grudges when he gets back to you. There’s no question. I think Larson came into this weekend with not a very good attitude. We saw it in his pre-race comments.
“Again, I’m really good friends with the guy, but each person has to be called out individually. This was not Ryan Preece’s fault. You can argue all you want, but then Kyle drove right down the race track on the backstretch and tried to door the s*** out of the 41 and ended up wrecking himself in the process.”
Chad Knaus takes shot at Hamlin for his speeding penalties
This week Chad Knaus made one of his regular guest appearance on NASCAR Race Hub where he talked about the upcoming race this weekend at Martinsville, and offered his thoughts on who will win in a head-to-head matchup between Hamlin and his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. on the half-mile track.
“I think the easy choice is Denny Hamlin,” Knaus admitted. “But I’m going to go the other way. I don’t think that I’ve seen the consistent performance out of the No. 11 team as what we would expect and what we would need to go to Martinsville and perform at that level.
“There’s too many things going on. We have a lot of pit stops. It’s a difficult pit road. Restarts are problematic. You can speed on pit road. Not that Denny ever speeds. So I’m going to go with the No. 19.”
Best among active drivers at Martinsville
Knaus’s sarcastic remark about Hamlin not speeding was referring to the Richmond race a few weeks ago when the No. 11 got nabbed a couple of times by the NASCAR police for speeding on pit road.
It’s undeniable Hamlin’s performance thus far in 2023 isn’t up to his standard with just a couple of top-10 finishes through the season’s first eight races. But it’s also hard to argue with his past success on the Paperclip, where, among active drivers, he has the most wins at five. Truex is next closest at three.
We’ll see if the JGR driver can find his form on a track that’s been good to him in the past. And, as Knaus suggested, avoiding speeding penalties or any kinds of mistakes will be key in order for it to happen.
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