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Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson are competitors and friends. Hamlin showed the strength of their friendship last year when he allowed Larson to use his plane to jet back and forth between the sprint car Knoxville Nationals and the NASCAR race at Indianapolis while the two were in the heart of the regular-season points battle. 

Last week after watching the Hendrick Motorsports driver start a crash on the final lap at Talladega that took out both of his 23XI Racing cars, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver jokingly called out his friend on Twitter. That tweet exploded into controversy. Hamlin addressed the events of this week at Dover. Larson did as well. 

Denny Hamlin directs offensive tweet at Kyle Larson

Denny Hamlin went on Twitter 24 hours after watching Kyle Larson make a move that started a chain-reaction crash that took out both Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace on the last lap at Talladega and made a joke about the 2021 champ using a meme that featured a Family Guy clip stereotypically portraying Asian women as bad drivers. Larson’s mom is Japanese American. 

Hamlin received an immediate response — much of it negative. He followed it up with a pair of comments trying to justify his initial tweet. Eventually, he removed it and tweeted an apology.

NASCAR later said the driver would be required to attend sensitivity training. 

Kyle Larson addresses situation and friend’s ‘poor judgment’

This week Kyle Larson visited with the media before the race in Delaware. Unsurprisingly, he was asked his thoughts on the situation, and the reigning champ candidly responded.

“NASCAR did what they had to do, and I appreciate Denny going through the steps to learn from that,” the HMS driver said. “Obviously, it was just poor judgment on his part. I think being the position that we’re in, you have to be very careful with what you put out to the public. I know he’ll learn a lot from the next couple of weeks. I think we’re all just ready to move past it and get back focused on racing.”

Fox’s Bob Pockrass asked Larson if he was offended by the tweet.

“I wasn’t personally offended by it because he is my friend,” Larson admitted. “But I know, and I think he knows now how there’s millions of other people that a tweet like that could offend. No hard feelings from me.”

Hamlin learning from situation


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Hamlin also visited with reporters and admitted that he and the HMS driver had talked. He said the contents of their conversation would remain private. 

He acknowledged someone sent him the meme and, in the interview, maintained that it was “hilarious,” but also realized how some found it offensive. He planned on using the situation as an opportunity to grow as a person.

“I’ll always continue to be me, and it’s not always going to be the most popular thing, but I am who I am,” Hamlin said. “Certainly, I never will stop continuing to grow. I always want to be a better person, better dad, better partner, better team owner, better driver. I always strive to try and be better, and I work really hard at it.” 

It’s been a rough season for Hamlin and his No. 11 team. This past week on and off the track wasn’t any better but the three-time Daytona 500 winner can hopefully learn from his mistake and make better choices in the future.

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