Denny Hamlin Surprisingly Admits That He’s Jealous of Justin Marks and Explains Why Using an Interesting Analogy

Denny Hamlin is in his second year as co-owner of 23XI Racing. He’s watched his team grow to a two-car operation in those two seasons and manage a pair of wins by drivers Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch. 

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has also watched Justin Marks follow a similar timeline as co-owner of Trackhouse Racing, but in that organization’s second year, they’ve rocketed to success and blown past much of the competition, including 23XI. 

This week, after the announcement that Tyler Reddick would be joining Hamlin’s team in 2024, the co-owner talked about what’s happened over the last few years and candidly admitted that he’s jealous of Marks.   

Denny Hamlin and Justin Marks take similar paths

Denny Hamlin and Justin Marks before race
Justin Marks (L) during the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 on June 26, 2022, at Nashville Superspeedway. | Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Denny Hamlin during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Series Goodyear 400 on May 07, 2022, at Darlington Raceway.| Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Denny Hamlin partnered with NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and formed 23XI Racing. The team started Cup Series racing in 2021 and watched Bubba Wallace earn three top-10 finishes, including the organization’s first win in October at Talladega. 

Justin Marks partnered with entertainer Pitbull and formed Trackhouse Racing. The team started Cup Series racing in 2021 and watched Daniel Suarez earn four top-10 finishes but no victories. 

While the two organizations had similar beginnings, they went dramatically different directions last summer when Trackhouse purchased Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR operations and added a second team for the 2022 season. 23XI also added a second car this past offseason, but under very different circumstances.    

In 2022, Busch won the second trophy for 23XI at Kansas in May, but he and Wallace have been inconsistent throughout the year. Conversely, Trackhouse, with Suarez and Ross Chastain, has been one of the top stories with both drivers earning their first career Cup wins. The No. 1 team collected another trophy at Atlanta, and there could have been more with both cars consistently running near the front all season long.  

Denny Hamlin admits he’s jealous of Justin Marks

This week Denny Hamlin and 23XI Racing made a big move, announcing that Tyler Reddick would join the team in 2024. No details were provided on whether the team would add a third car or if he’d be replacing one of the current drivers. Hamlin made the rounds with the media talking about the surprising announcement, including a visit with the Twitter Racing Spaces, where he brought up Marks and used an interesting analogy to compare the two teams and their short histories.     

“It’s so difficult because me and Justin came into the sport at the same time, right, and like I’m so jealous of Justin because he found a route that was way easier than mine, and I wish I had that opportunity,” Hamlin admitted. “We both went to the grocery store thinking we wanted pizza. We both wanted pizza, right, and we were shopping, and Justin found the perfect frozen pizza that he wanted. He cooked it. He’s eating it, and he’s loving it. And it tastes amazing, and he’s doing really, really well with it. 

“I got the bright idea, well, I wonder if I can make my own pizza? I want to make my own ingredients. I want to add the pepperonis myself. I want special cheese. I want this, that, and the other, and it’s going to take a long time for me to do this. It’s going to take a process for me to get this pizza, but hopefully, in the end, it’s going to be delicious. I may screw it up. Just for the record, I’m not a good cook. That’s kind of what we’re dealing with. This is going to be a process, and I think Tyler honestly believed in the process.”  

Who makes the next move?

With Reddick on board for 2024, there’s already been considerable speculation on what happens at 23XI Racing. Busch is 43 and in the twilight of his career. It would make the most sense for Reddick to replace him. Hamlin might also consider adding a third car to the mix. 

But don’t sleep on Marks potentially making another big move. Remember, it was just a year ago that he gauged Ganassi’s interest. The next thing you know, they were announcing the purchase.

The charter market is ever-evolving, and Marks might find himself adding another car to his roster. As he’s proven in the past, nothing is off the table. It’s just a matter of if he can find the right pizza. 

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