“A Denny Hamlin Documentary” – One Day Since Its Release, NASCAR: Full Speed Gets Some Big Reviews
Three weeks after Netflix shared the first look teaser of NASCAR: Full Speed, their take on the 2023 Cup Series playoffs, the five-part docuseries has finally hit the market. While the NASCAR feature stands its ground in front of Netflix’s Formula One series – Drive to Survive, what does the NASCAR fandom think of it? Is it just some “Five episodes basically to push Denny’s podcast?” like they deem it to be?
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For the unversed, who haven’t still caught up to it on Netflix, it certainly isn’t a carbon copy of Drive to Survive, ripping off elements from the world of open-wheel racing but instead, it offers more insights into the world of NASCAR, its controversial, and unapologetic personalities, the aggressive form of racing all while offering more clarity of the behind the scene activities – how teams and drivers are arming themselves for the high-speed gamble.
While Netflix’s adaptation of the 2023 Cup Series season strikes the right chords, hitting where it should, with more and more NASCAR fanatics watching it, a myriad of reviews have been cropping up from the community. On that front, some think, the docuseries might have misfired, missing the target by a mile, focusing more on individuals like Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, and Ross Chastain to make a more compelling storyline while completely ignoring champions like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
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Hit or miss: Did NASCAR: Full Speed break the stereotype, shooting NASCAR into the stratosphere?
Divided into five parts, the docuseries goes through the paces much like a race, taking the viewers through each stage, focusing on the promotion’s unique individuals, the thrill, drama, and action inside the fast lane. And in no way is Netflix’s take on NASCAR unengaging or quiescent.
Instead, it almost has all the bells and whistles to keep the viewers engaged. Yes, almost. While Netflix’s NASCAR feature does an exceptional job of getting NASCAR into the world outside the US, captivating race fans across the globe, as the days pass following its release, one opinion that has kept building up is how Hamlin is the centerpiece of the whole show.
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While the emphasis was on drivers like Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney and William Byron, among others, the JGR veteran’s villainous persona and his dilemma as a driver/owner were the focal points of the docuseries.
They also go into the #11 driver’s shoulder issues, which just adds another element to this title fight. Even many NASCAR fans were unaware of the medical issues that Hamlin was facing while competing at the highest level of the sport. His long pursuit of the championship was, in fact, the cornerstone. Episode 1 was more on Hamlin, detailing his dilemma, choosing his driver Wallace over his teammate, and Joe Gibbs’ grandson Ty Gibbs.
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We got more of Hamlin, talking to his father and the sacrifices that both of his parents made to get him into racing. Despite the driver being the most winningest driver in the series without a title, fans felt a deep contempt that the directors overused the storyline around Hamlin, saying, “Didn’t love it…felt like a Denny Hamlin documentary featuring NASCAR.” The absence of popular names like Chase Elliott, retired champion, Kevin Harvick, and 2-time Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch only made hardcore fans denounce the show even more. “Five episodes basically to push Denny’s podcast. Not a bad series but no Chase, Kyle Busch, Harvick is wild,” said one of the fan opinions.
While a short highlight was Hamlin with his children when they told him that he should’ve won more races, the improvisation on Hamlin and his 23XI Racing driver, Bubba Wallace made more come out with opinions like, “NASCAR dropped the ball big time on this. Should have followed ALL playoff drivers. More time was spent on Hamlin and Wallace. Could have and should have been way more episodes. Just my opinion.”
However, Denny Hamlin’s driver, Bubba Wallace, didn’t quite have the same opinion and appreciated how the docu-series captured the rawness from their off-track lives.
“Obviously worked out great” – Hamlin’s driver, Bubba Wallace explains his thoughts
Both Wallace and his close friend and 2023 Cup Series champion, Ryan Blaney recently dropped down to the The Today Showstudio to go live on “3rd Hour Today” speaking their minds about NASCAR: Full Speed. During the program, the Alabama native got vocal about thanking the producers, Netflix, and NASCAR for joining hands to come up with a great docu-series that brought out the high-stakes and intense lives of its drivers.
Shortly into the interview, the driver touched upon a variety of topics and said, “I’ll say hats off to Netflix and NASCAR for coming together and creating something special and something unique for our viewers to be a part of.” While the driver felt like it was “raw,” saying, “I know a lot of people kind of shut down when cameras get on and right. But the most authentic you can be registers with everybody that’s watching. And so I thought it was really well done. And a lot of fun, especially coming off to the dock that I did a couple of years ago.”
During the live telecast, Wallace also relayed how important his wife, Amanda Wallace has been in his life. He said, “Amanda has been a huge rock and just got through one year of marriage. We’re all good there. And it’s really been fun getting to get into grow and life with her and show her the ins and outs of our sport and just be there as somebody to talk to.”
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In short, Netflix has carved out a unique product that highlights the plight, and struggles of NASCAR drivers, their personalities, and the level of competitiveness on the track. While the emphasis was on nine drivers, it’s not a secret that they’ve missed out on some of the biggest draws in the sport like Busch and Harvick.
Tell us your thoughts on the latest docuseries in the comments below.
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