Denny Hamlin Predicted Fans Would Boo Him at Phoenix but a Botched Driver Intro Made It Awkward and Worse Than Expected

Denny Hamlin has heard a lot of boos lately. After impeding Alex Bowman’s celebratory burnout at the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville, fans heartily booed the three-time Daytona 500 champion during his postrace television interview. Hamlin then took a shot at the fans in his postrace interview with reporters and suggested they would boo him even more in Phoenix. He had no idea. 

Fast-forward a week later to the Championship 4 race in the desert, and he was right. However, he could have never imagined it would go the way it did when his driver intro announcement on the stage was mistimed, which meant he arrived too early and stood before a large gathering of fans who showered him with a cascade of boos for a lengthy period of time   

Denny Hamlin booed at Martinsville

Denny Hamlin was upset. After leading for most of the final 100 laps at Martinsville, Alex Bowman got loose going into a corner and sent the No. 11 up into the wall, ending his shot at the victory. 

After the Hendrick Motorsports driver took the checkered flag, Hamlin confronted him before his celebratory burnout, driving his car next to the No. 48, then getting nose to nose and pushing him backward. A fan from the stands delivered a perfect strike with a canned beverage that landed on the roof of the No. 11 car and bounced onto the ground. After flipping the double-bird at Bowman, Hamlin drove away.

Moments later, during the postrace television interview on pit road, an unhappy Hamlin expressed his frustration with Bowman as the fans in the stands of his home track booed him.  

In the postrace gathering of media, a reporter asked Hamlin what he thought of the fans booing him. 

“It’s just Chase Elliott fans, man. They don’t think straight,” Hamlin said. When asked if it bothered him, he delivered an interesting answer. “No, not at all. They’re going to boo the s*** out of me next week, I can tell you that.”

Booed for an extended time at Phoenix after early entrance during botched driver intro

Denny Hamlin should have known Sunday wasn’t going to be his day when the driver intros went horribly wrong. Standing behind the curtain, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver waited while the public address announcer read through his entire bio. 

“Starting sixth today, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from Chesterfield, Virginia,” the PA announcer said, then oddly stopped without announcing Hamlin’s name. Unfortunately, the rest of the driver intro production team was not on the same page. The curtain lifted, the smoke billowed, and Hamlin walked out. As the driver reached the middle of the stage, the announcer started his entire script from the start. 

“Race fans, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for,” he said while Hamlin walked out to small applause and a lot of boos. The driver lifted his hand to his ear, encouraging the crowd. He then walked to his position near the end of the stage and stood there for 20 seconds while the announcer read through his bio again. 

Hilariously, when the announcer said, “Denny Hamlin,” which resulted in even more boos, the camera shot showed Hamlin already standing in position and the curtain behind him opening with Martin Truex Jr. waiting in the smoke and bright red lights. It quickly lowered and reset for Truex’s intro. 

Hamlin embraced boos at Bristol

While the booing of Hamlin has been a talking point recently, especially at his home track of Martinsville, it’s nothing new for the driver this year. At Bristol, the NBC broadcast showed the intros and Hamlin was booed and delivered a funny response to the crowd. 

“I love you all, too,” he said, which drew a big laugh from the NBC broadcast team. 

“That’s perfect,” Kyle Petty said.

“What a great line. I think the boos caught him off guard,” Marty Snider replied.

The negative response may have caught him off guard at Bristol, but now it has become commonplace for Hamlin. The question is whether or not it continues in 2022. If it does, he can always go to teammate Kyle Busch for advice on how to handle it. 

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