Sunday, March 17, 2013

For Denny Hamlin, The Distractions Continue

Sadly, inexplicably, Denny Hamlin continues to concentrate on everything but the job at hand.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver announced recently that he will not appeal the controversial $25,000 fine handed down by NASCAR for comments critical of the sanctioning body’s new Gen-6 race car.
He also will not pay it.

“After a lot of thought I have decided not to appeal the fine NASCAR has issued,” said Hamlin last week. “Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next two weeks would not be good for anyone. (However), I firmly believe I am in the right on this issue and will stand behind my decision not to pay.”
NASCAR responded quickly to Hamlin’s statement, saying that the fine will be handled according to Section 12-3 of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series rule book, which allows unpaid penalties to be deducted from the driver’s purse or point fund earnings.
It was a win-win deal, for both sides. Hamlin saved face by (technically) not paying the fine, while NASCAR delivered its desired message about not trash-talking their new race car. Amazingly, however, Hamlin refused to let the matter go.
Less than 24 hours later, he poked the NASCAR bear once again, telling a gathering of reporters at Bristol Motor Speedway that, “we won in the judge(ment) of the people. In hindsight, I really believe (NASCAR) overreacted, and I believe that they think they overreacted, once they thought about it a little bit.”
Post-race scuffling at Bristol Sunday
Hamlin also had harsh words for his fellow drivers, who he believes should have been more outspoken in support of his cause. “I think some of the peers of mine -- at least the ones that have a backbone had the nerve to stick up for what they know is right and wrong – agreed (with me),” he said. “Everyone wants to stay on NASCAR’s good side and that ultimately plays (into) a lot of what you hear in interviews. Ninety percent of what you hear on a weekly basis is just guys that are trying to stay on NASCAR’s good side. There’s very few that really give the honest and true truth.”
Fast-forward two more days, as Hamlin punts Joey Logano out of second place at Bristol, triggering a post-race shove-fest between their two teams and a subsequent round of testosterone-rich Twitter machismo that promises to plunge Hamlin into another week of meaningless – and damaging – distraction.
“Hey @dennyhamlin great job protecting that genius brain of yours by keeping your helmet on,” tweeted Logano after the race.

“Why's that,” replied Hamlin. “What would u do?”

“Show you some love and appreciation,” wrote Logano, promoting Hamlin to ask, “Need my address?”

OK boys, settle down before someone actually has to throw a punch.

While hurt feelings and damaged egos are often a fact of life at Bristol Motor Speedway, Hamlin’s courtship of controversy once again threatens to derail his championship chase, before it begins.
Hamlin and Harvick feuded in 2010
In 2010, Hamlin interjected himself needlessly into someone else’s late-season controversy, making comments critical of Richard Childress Racing after then-RCR driver Clint Bowyer was penalized following the opening race of the Chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After finishing second to Bowyer, Hamlin alleged that his rival's cars had been illegal long before New Hampshire, saying, “it’s something that's been going on for months. They've been warned for a long time… they knew it was wrong (and) they just wanted to get everything they could."
Those remarks led to a verbal exchange with RCR General Manager Mike Dillon and a warning from Childress himself, who said, "We’re a close-knit team. You're not going to win a pissing contest with a skunk, and you don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house." The following week, Kevin Harvick wrecked Hamlin in the opening minutes of practice at Dover, costing him valuable practice time and triggering another physical confrontation between pit crews.
The distractions continued all the way to Homestead Miami Speedway, where Hamlin’s late-season swoon culminated in an early crash and a 14th-place finish that cleared the way for Jimmie Johnson to claim his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup crown.
As a contender for the 2013 championship, Hamlin must learn from past mistakes. He and his Joe Gibbs Racing/Fed Ex Toyota team must have one focus -- and one focus only – if they hope to prevail this time around. Anything that distracts from their on-track performance must come off the table immediately, and remain off the table, once and for all.
Defending series champion Brad Keselowski lives and breathes stock car racing, 24 hours a day. Five-time titlist Johnson is also fully focused on the job at hand, and is seldom – if ever –swept up in off-track conflicts and histrionics. Keselowski and Johnson will not be defeated by a distracted driver, and Hamlin should know it by now.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver stands at a pivotal fork in the road. He can continue to waste his considerable talent on petty distractions, meaningless feuds and Twitter testosterone, or he can let go of the silliness, focus on racing and walk the path of a true professional.
The choice is his.



  1. Not to knock Denny, he is a very talented driver, but I think his problem of running off at the mouth goes back several years, maybe 2007 or so.

  2. 100% agree dave he needs to stop acting like a immiture little spoiled "its my way or no way" brat and focus on driving and showing his true ability ....obviously fatherhood hasn't rung his bell yet!

  3. Anonymous8:55 PM

    Well said. Denny sure has a superior attitude, and that gets him in trouble. That said, Logano sure hasn't been helpful to his teammate. He kept side drafting Denny late in the 500 and separating him from Brad, and today he runs Denny into Brad and probably cost him a win.

    1. Anonymous3:08 AM

      Not at all what happened Sunday and as for Daytona the nerve of Joey to want to make something happen for himself to advance his position and not take care of Miss Hamlin..come on!

  4. Anonymous8:55 PM

    Well said Mr. Moody.

  5. 11 is not a class act. Needs the boot.. Coach won't put up with him much longer.

    1. Anonymous3:54 PM

      Not true. He put up with Kyle's antics. He will put up with Hamlin's. Anything for a win.

  6. While this is all entertaining in a soap opera sort of way, I cringe when Denny opens his mouth. Like you put so eloquently, he's just hurting himself. Brad K. can manage to be equally as brutally honest but without getting into distracting entanglements.

  7. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Well said Dave. Great article.

  8. Anonymous10:08 PM

    Totally agree dave. Hamlin can not focus on the big picture if he keeps focusing on the small things.

    P.S Glad to see your comments on the weekends now. I Like knowing what your thinking after a good days race.

  9. Anonymous10:19 PM


  10. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Good read.

  11. Seems to me he is struggling with being the most senior driver on the team and perhaps the driver with the least talent at JGR.

    1. Anonymous11:01 PM

      Denny may have the most years with JGR, but Matt Kenseth has been in Cup longer. I'd say Matt is the senior driver at JGR. And Matt has a championship.

    2. I meant most senior with the team, not in NASCAR. I would definitely agree that Matt is the new team leader at JGR.

  12. Anonymous1:13 PM

    EXCELLENT Advice! ! !

  13. Anonymous2:07 PM

    it might be just me, but Denny Hamlin epitomizes what is wrong in nascar. In Phoenix he makes a awesome closing laps pass on the apron and finishes 3rd .After starting in the thirties. Gets out and says the gen 6 is worse then the gen 5.Gets fined by nascar (unjustly imo) then refuses to pay the fine. If I was nascar i wouldve parked him until he paid.There is an appeals process after all. Then at Bristol Logano works and works to get past him without touching him and when he finally does,denny cowardly dumps him.Im no fan of Logano . i just feel that we are just watching spoiled kids . No more men.for cryin out loud they dont even carry their own helmets. And to add insult to injury, Denny says its appealing the fine not worth it because its only 25000.good grief

    1. Anonymous3:59 PM

      All signs of a spoiled child. I appreciate his driving skills. His maturity, not so much. He won't ever be a favorite of mine since he seems to have some very deep defects.

  14. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Trying to think of why the other drivers would want to get up Nascars butt to help his when he knows it was dumb to say (he passed at least 41 cars that day) It's not supposed to be easy to pass ..(thats for the ringers on Saterday)..Leadership..I Think not...Earner

  15. Anonymous9:12 PM

    It's ALL staged. Denny said it himself in the media center Friday. Only 90 percent of what you're hearing from drivers is true. Denny is assuming the role of bad guy at Gibbs. Kyle's gittin a PR makeover and Denny is part of the plan. Plus, this side drama has changed the subject from the Gen6. And why am I not reading more about Denny's past like this elsewhere? Oh wait, that's right...

  16. Anonymous10:59 PM

    Looks like Denny has caught whatever "bug" Kyle used to have. His arrogance and loud mouth are not going to be tolerated. NASCAR has admitted the Gen 6 car is a "work in progress" and will need to be tweaked, but good grief, Charlie Brown Hamlin, give it a chance. Quite frankly, I think the Gen 6 is already an improvement over the "Car of Tomorrow". How does Denny know some of his fellow races haven't said anything. Perhaps they used their brains and went and spoke to NASCAR in private instead of looking like an idiot with the NASCAR fans. Denny needs to make sure his brains are loaded before he shoots his mouth off. It's best to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

  17. Anonymous11:37 PM

    Denny Hamlin has the right to remain silent.
    He does not seem to have the ability to do so though.

    Robert Y

  18. Dave,

    You nailed another one, Mr. Moody. It's not that Denny has a mouth or an attitude. Hell, a lot of drivers have those. He's too intent on "being right" and not on winning races.

    He's out fighting every battle to show everyone that he's right to be champion. Don't work like that. No pro baseball, football or basketball team wins every night. They bounce back and focus on the championship. Throw the petty stuff aside.

    Once Denny focuses, and I'm glad it happened early in the year, he can run for the championship. Always time left...

  19. Very succinctly stated Dave, this sport is way too competitive to not have your head 100% in the game!!!!

  20. Anonymous11:24 AM

    What surprises me is that FEDEX puts up with Denny. He needs to shut up and start racing. Joey is going to punt him though and Denny has to know that its coming!

  21. Anonymous1:30 AM

    So.. did anyone notice his in car audio when he supposedly dumped joey?

    He was obviously surprised and apologetic. then after joey runs his own shorts up the flag pole and gets in his face not to mention taking a few looks at him on the track denny says oh yeah I meant dump him.

    Sounds a lot like calling your babe ruth shot then retracting it then saying u called it after u won.

    Denny is an ego maniac and I know this because I myself am an ego maniac. Takes one to know one.

    And joey talkin about denny in his helmet..
    Did joey even get close enough to catch a glimpse of denny as he was sitting there loosening his belts? cmon man.

    Okay now I feel like a teenage girl. Is this what gossiping is like?