Denny Hamlin has not hesitated in the past to publicly criticize the Next Gen car. He’s openly talked about safety concerns and other issues with the new car ahead of its debut in the 2022 Cup Series season. This week the three-time Daytona 500 winner visited with race fans on Twitter and revealed how several major differences in the Next Gen car will translate into more crashes and must-see television.
Denny Hamlin speaks out on Next Gen car safety concerns and NASCAR’s lack of transparency
Back in July, Denny Hamlin didn’t sugarcoat his thoughts when discussing potential safety issues with the Next Gen car and NASCAR’s lack of transparency 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.”
Hamlin suggested it would be important in the future for the drivers to collaborate to ensure that 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,” he 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.”
Admits there will be more crashes with Next Gen car
This week, Hamlin visited with race fans during a gathering of Racing Spaces on Twitter, where he discussed a variety of topics, including how he hopes NASCAR will dramatically change its model of sponsored drivers vs. talent in the near future, what young up-and-coming drivers should do to get noticed, and, of course, where he stands with the Next Gen car, which he tested at Daytona earlier this month.
He said one of the biggest concerns remains with the heat that builds up inside of the cockpit.
“We are the steak and the floorboard is the grill,” he said. “We cook from the bottom up.”
While heat is a concern that Hamlin expects NASCAR will address, he said the overall handling of the Next Gen car remains a challenge because of major differences from the current car in both shifting and driving, as well as issues with the simulator, which does not adequately reflect the new car. He suggested practice will be imperative to overcome these dramatic changes, but fans will ultimately benefit in the end.
“This thing is an entirely different machine,” Hamlin said. “There will certainly be more wrecks, no question.”
Denny Hamlin has lingering questions
Denny Hamlin’s acknowledgment that there will be more crashes with the Next Gen car is a result of testing earlier this month at Daytona. He, along with multiple drivers, including fellow Daytona 500 winners Joey Logano and Austin Dillon, tested out the cars at the superspeedway in an attempt to see how they reacted in traffic.
Hamlin later met with reporters and talked about the car, including whether or not NASCAR had addressed his previous safety concerns. Interestingly, he avoided directly answering the question when asked if he was any more comfortable with the car regarding safety compared to a few months earlier.
“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 so we’re all going to have to get comfortable.”
If it all plays out as Hamlin predicts, the drivers will have to get comfortable, the fans will get some exciting racing action, and the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season will be one to remember.