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Denny Hamlin has been one of the most outspoken drivers about concerns over the safety of the Next Gen car. For more than a year and long before the car ever made its debut, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was vocal about potential issues with the car and the lack of communication on the subject with NASCAR officials.

Last weekend at Talladega and a couple of days after the news that Alex Bowman had suffered a concussion and would miss the race, things came to a head. Multiple drivers, including Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott spoke out and expressed surprise that it had gotten to this point. Hamlin had some explosive comments of his own, suggesting the car needed a complete redesign and NASCAR needed a change in leadership. He also shockingly revealed that the drivers had already taken a stand and protested the safety of the new car in a unique way.

Denny Hamlin calls for complete redesign of Next Gen car

While Denny Hamlin has been at the forefront of drivers questioning NASCAR about the Next Gen car for more than a year, he never sounded like he did on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. 

Reporters peppered the three-time Daytona 500 winner with a variety of questions on the car and its safety on the heels of the Bowman announcement, and he did not disappoint.

“The car needs to be redesigned,” Hamlin bluntly said, when asked about the goal of the drivers with the new car. “It needs a full redesign. It can still be called Next Gen but it still needs to be redesigned.” 

Hamlin shockingly reveals drivers already boycotted once

After talking about the redesign, one reporter asked Hamlin about the timing of implementing changes in the car. The JGR driver’s response included a surprising revelation. 

“We were just late to the party,” he said. “It’s tough. We brought up these concerns with NASCAR last winter. We, actually, as drivers, didn’t do that docuseries last year because we didn’t feel comfortable with this Next Gen car, the lack of safety testing that had been done before they started announcing that they were going to run it. 

“We threw up red flags over a year ago, and they just didn’t respond. They just kept pushing that this car has got to be on the race track at all costs,” he paused. “At all costs.” 

No plans to boycott in future

Denny Hamlin stands on grid
Denny Hamlin stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 25, 2022. | Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin Unexpectedly Pulled Aside by Joe Gibbs After Texas for Conversation, and Driver Didn’t Have Much to Say

Hamlin’s admission that the drivers boycotted the Race for the Championship docuseries last year out of protest for lack of safety testing with the new car was surprising. Later in the session, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang asked Hamlin if there was a possibility of another boycott in the future. 

“We haven’t gotten anywhere near that point,” he said. “In the end, everyone has to make sure that they feel safe in the car. Drivers. Owners. Everyone. Eventually, the groups are all going to say we’ve all had enough if things continue.” 

At this point, it feels like the drivers have had enough. However, with five races to go in the 2022 season, it appears, at least according to Hamlin, that they won’t take any action before the final race at Phoenix. 

Next year could be a very different story.

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