Denny Hamlin Cited ‘Unaffordable Reason’ For Hesitancy to Criticize NASCAR, Almost a Decade Before Next-Gen Car Issues

Published 11/30/2022, 5:00 AM EST
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 01: NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin speaks with the media during the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Media Day at Charlotte Convention Center on September 01, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Long before the issues of the Next-Gen NASCAR Cup Series car, the cars being run used to have several safety flaws. All those flaws would affect the driver more than anyone or anything else. Back in 2013, Denny Hamlin told a leading media organization how multiple drivers had suffered head injuries but were not comfortable speaking up.

Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick stated, “NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin told me he has suffered at least one concussion on the track and admitted drivers are hesitant to mention their injuries.”

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“We really can’t afford to be taken out of the car,” Hamlin said. “Our sponsors rely on us. There is no backup. We’re careful at times with information.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. once opened up about his head injury and how it almost got him out of racing. It was one then that people understood the gravity of the problem. But since so many drivers had been in accidents in the past, it would be correct to assume many of them would have suffered similar injuries. However, they would either not know about it or conveniently chose not to speak up.

Even the Next-Gen NASCAR cars have similar problems

With the onset of the next-gen era, there was hope. Many had envisioned the rectification of the previously brought-up safety issues, with the onset of the Next Gen Era. However, that wasn’t the case. Rather, an increasing number of drivers came out complaining about how the impacts, in fact, felt harder on them than before.

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DAYTONA, FL – JANUARY 12: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, during Next Gen Testing on January 12, 2022 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Earlier this year, we had Kurt Busch ended up in a crash while at Pocono Raceway. He sustained a head injury and became unfit to drive. There was optimism amongst fans about him making a full recovery. Yet eventually, Busch announced his retirement from racing.

This was not the only case where a driver had issues surrounding safety with the latest next-gen cars. Drivers like Kevin Harvick had their cars erupt in flames after the insulation materials failed to do their job. However, unlike others who would have chosen not to speak up, Harvick went on to the media and blasted NASCAR for its incorporation of “crappy a** parts.” Even Denny Hamlin spoke out about drivers being vulnerable to injuries because of the design of the new cars.

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Watch This Story: NASCAR World In Disbelief Over Brawl In Race Amid Bubba Wallace-Kyle Larson Cloud Over Driver Behaviour

Soon enough, NASCAR finally paid heed to the driver’s complaints. They have decided to take action before the start of the next season.

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Srijan Mandal

783 articles

Srijan Mandal is a NASCAR author at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Journalism and has been writing for his own blog as well, covering NASCAR, F1, F2, W Series, MotoGP, DTM, IndyCar, WRC, and WEC. Following motorsports for more than a decade, he has become a devout supporter of McLaren Racing, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Bubba Wallace, Sir Lewis Hamilton, and Ayrton Senna.

Edited By: Akash Pandhare

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