Denny Hamlin is unquestionably one of the most outspoken drivers in the garage. Interestingly, his words are often directed at NASCAR. The three-time Daytona 500 winner doesn’t hesitate to use his veteran status and shine the light on areas where he sees an opportunity for improvement.
This past week, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver visited with reporters and, in typical Hamlin fashion, didn’t sugarcoat his feelings. He accused the governing body of providing Hendrick Motorsports with an unfair advantage and then offered up one specific area NASCAR needs to improve going forward.
Denny Hamlin supports Kevin Harvick’s crew chief highlighting NASCAR’s poor communication
Just a couple of weeks ago, Denny Hamlin revealed that as much as he’s talked about improved communication between NASCAR and the teams in the past, it’s still not happening.
It occurred after Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, pointed out on social media how teams had learned about a new requirement of rain flaps for Cup cars on rainy road courses from Fox’s Bob Pockrass instead of NASCAR.
“I’m so glad you send out all of this so we can learn what we are doing,” Childers responded to the reporter’s tweet. (The crew chief’s tweet has since been deleted.)
“So true,” Hamlin chimed in.
Believes NASCAR giving Hendrick Motorsports unfair advantage
Ironically, a day after Hamlin’s reply, NASCAR made an unexpected announcement that caught every Cup Series organization but Hendrick Motorsports by surprise. NASCAR had partnered with HMS and will be bringing a modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023. Chad Knaus, VP of competition at HMS, will oversee the project.
Hamlin told reporters before the race at Circuit of the Americas that the announcement came out of nowhere and admitted that it didn’t sit right with him.
“Finding out through a press conference is not OK,” Hamlin said. “We have too many people in place. NASCAR has too many executives for that to slip through the cracks. Not that that slipped through the cracks, but where is the transparency of it?
“And then, on the other side, there certainly is performance advantages that every team is concerned with. Short of us being allowed to have the same track time, I don’t see any way possible that they will not have an advantage. That’s a team that has already won more races than anybody else this season with the Next Gen. I think from my standpoint the decision was made and they’ll kind of figure out the details later.”
Hamlin frustrated by NASCAR’s continued lack of communication
In addition to Le Mans, Hamlin was also asked about NASCAR’s last-minute decision to remove the turtles through the “esses” portion of the track without notifying the drivers who had spent countless hours of simulation preparing with the curbs in place.
Unsurprisingly, he didn’t sugarcoat his thoughts.
“NASCAR knows,” he said. “I’ve said to them, ‘I just wish we would stop talking about communicating better and just communicate better.’ Anything that involves competition that changes, let us know, because we spend time preparing. Drivers don’t just show up and race and like, ‘Ah, it’ll be fine.’ We’ve got to, it just seems like, grow up and get better with our processes and stuff like this. It’s just frustrating.”
Some fans view Denny Hamlin as a driver who whines or complains. Maybe that’s true regarding on-track action with certain drivers (see Alex Bowman). However, when it comes to the overall sport, no one can question his passion about making the sport better and his willingness to put himself out there and address potential areas of improvement.
That’s a legacy that will be remembered far longer than any number of trophies in his collection.