Denny Hamlin has been outspoken in the past when talking about potential safety issues with the Next Gen car. This week the three-time Daytona 500 champion joined Joey Logano, William Byron, and several other drivers for testing of the new car at Daytona International Speedway.
On Thursday, Hamlin visited with reporters and admitted he still has lingering questions about the car’s safety but also understands there’s no turning back with the car scheduled to make its debut at the 2022 Daytona 500. Hamlin also talked about other new features in the car, including the new rear-view camera and why he has no intention of ever using it.
Denny Hamlin concerned about Next Gen car safety issues and NASCAR’s lack of transparency
In July, Denny Hamlin didn’t sugarcoat his feelings when asked his thoughts about the potential safety issues with the Next Gen car and NASCAR’s lack of transparency in addressing those concerns.
“When it comes to the crash stuff, I’ve asked questions to two different NASCAR people, executives. I can’t get a response. That, to me, makes it even scarier,” Hamlin admitted. “Man, the disconnect right now between all the parties — NASCAR, the tracks, and all the drivers, it’s tough right now. It’s not a good place.”
At the time, Hamlin said it was incumbent on the drivers to work together in the future to ensure they were driving the safest cars possible.
“In seven years, I’ll be a team owner only, but these drivers, they need to get organized. Their safety is at risk,” Hamlin said. “They need to know what they’re getting strapped into. So they need to get organized and they need to have a voice. They deserve to have a seat at the table, whatever that table is.”
Denny Hamlin still has questions about car’s safety
This week Denny Hamlin returned to one of his best tracks to test out the Next Gen car with multiple drivers, including fellow Daytona 500 winners Joey Logano and Austin Dillon. It was the first time that multiple cars tested at Daytona, allowing the drivers to see how the vehicles performed in traffic on the superspeedway.
Hamlin met with reporters and talked about the car, including the previous safety concerns. When Fox’s Bob Pockrass asked whether or not he was any more comfortable with the car regarding safety issues compared to a few months ago, Hamlin avoided directly answering the question.
“I’m a little bit more educated on it, in general,” Hamlin said. “There was a little bit more time when they can sit with you one-on-one and discuss things. I still have questions. But I think that really, I’ll have to see all the information to really understand the questions that I want to have. But certainly we’re going to race it. We’re all going to have to get comfortable.”
Not a fan of the rear-view camera
In addition to safety concerns, Denny Hamlin also talked about the overwhelming heat inside the Next Gen car and the new rear-view camera. He said based on his previous experience driving with a rear-view camera, he opted not to use it in the testing and has no intentions of using it in the future.
“I didn’t run it. It was our personal choice not to run it,” he said. “For me personally, I’ve been in vehicles that have had a rear-view camera while you’re driving. I didn’t like it. To me, it just kind of crosses my eyes and makes me a little dizzy when I look at it. The reason that we have those is because the visibility isn’t as good. These cars are a little bit higher off of the ground. So we need to be able to see. So they’ve put in a camera back there. But I think that the camera is probably something I really won’t explore.”
William Byron also tested at Daytona and had a different opinion of the camera.
“I liked it. The way my seat position was and everything, I couldn’t really see very well out of the rear-view mirror on the top. I think that’s just something that we can get ironed out and fixed,” Byron said. “So I kind of used the rear-view camera instead the whole time and felt like it was really good and accurate. Kind of see the spoiler and it seemed like the refresh rate on the camera was pretty accurate. I think that’s going to be a tool. I think over time, guys will adapt to it and use it.”
Like Byron suggests, other drivers will likely adapt and use the new technology. Just don’t expect Denny Hamlin to be one of them.