Denny Hamlin Appears Closer to Following Kyle Busch Out the Door at Joe Gibbs Racing With Latest FedEx News

Denny Hamlin signed a multi-year contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing before the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. So did FedEx. Everything has been all good until last month when it was revealed that both extensions expire after the 2023 season. Anyone having feelings of Kyle Busch deja vu

With the start of the new Cup campaign less than two months away, a new report came out this week talking about the delivery company’s earnings. And if fans of the No. 11 weren’t a little concerned about the possibility of their driver and his longtime affiliation with FedEx and JGR continuing beyond 2023, they are now. 

Denny Hamlin and FedEx contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing end after 2023

Denny Hamlin celebrates win
Denny Hamlin celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. He was disqualified hours later. | Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin and his fans will unquestionably remember the 2022 Cup Series season, not necessarily for good reasons. Sure, there were some positives in winning two races at Richmond and Charlotte. But there was the historic disqualification at Pocono

Or the time at Texas during the playoffs when William Byron dumped the JGR car under caution and NASCAR officials inexplicably failed to see it and didn’t return the No. 11 to its previous position, running in second, and didn’t penalize the HMS car until days later.  

Probably the most painful moment happened at Martinsville when Hamlin made one final lap around the short track thinking he was in solid position of advancing to the Championship 4 race in Phoenix a week later and another shot at winning that elusive title. Then, Ross Chastain delivered a viral-video move that left anyone who saw it in disbelief. So you can imagine the driver’s disbelief of being eliminated from title contention by that move. 

After the season ended, the driver didn’t receive bad news per se, but his fans did. That’s when Adam Stern of the Sport Business Journal reported on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Hamlin and FedEx’s contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing ended after the 2023 season. 

Hamlin has a plan for ending his career

At 42 years old, Denny Hamlin fully understands that he’s in the twilight of his career. He admitted as much earlier this year during an appearance on the popular Dale Jr. Download podcast. He also talked about his hopes of ending his career and offered an interesting response when the host asked him if he was interested in driving for his own 23XI Racing team in the future. 

“Not if FedEx extends,” Hamlin didn’t hesitate in responding. “I think that I would like to retire at Gibbs with FedEx because it’s so unique to have a sponsor that has been part of the sport as long as they have and backed me as long as they have. There’s just no way I could leave them. 

“Maybe at that point, then I just run one or two races. I would just like to retire at Gibbs with FedEx. But if things change, then things change, and you’ve got to reevaluate.”

Latest news from FedEx is not good

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Unfortunately for Hamlin, things have changed, on a much broader scale. This week the delivery company announced it would cut $1 billion more in costs after weak demand ate into its quarterly profit.

The company announced cost-cutting measures in September that included parking planes and closing some offices with global demand softening. It also raised package-delivery rates. At the time, the CEO warned the economy would enter a “worldwide recession.” 

In other words, FedEx executives are looking at any and all possible ways to shave money. Logic would say eliminating a reported $10-20 million annual NASCAR sponsorship would be a potential high-value consideration. 

If that happens, Hamlin would be following in the not-so-fun footsteps of Kyle Busch from a year ago. Not a place the two-time champion wanted to be in, and Hamlin will hope to avoid a similar fate if at all possible because he’s already admitted, at his age, he’s already got enough natural challenges in the way.