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Denny Hamlin’s 2023 run-ins with Kyle Larson at Kansas and Pocono were not taken positively. Veteran NASCAR drivers like Kyle Petty were also quite vocal about their discontent regarding the aggressive racing style that Denny Hamlin had recently adopted. Even Kyle Larson had expressed his anger about the crash at Pocono, to the extent that he had even retaliated on track with a similar violent attitude. Needless to say, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s victory at Pocono was not the most celebrated one among people in the NASCAR community.

However, more than Denny Hamlin’s racing style, the factor most criticized was Hamlin’s unapologetic attitude. But what Denny Hamlin had to say in regard to this incident was enough to surprise NASCAR enthusiasts, for it unearthed a truth no one was prepared for. 

Denny Hamlin gets candid about the actual mentality of Cup Series Drivers

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The constant tussle between Ross Chastain and Hamlin is something that NASCAR fans have steadily grown used to. This is why when Hamlin had raced in a similar manner with Chastain last year, NASCAR experts had not reacted as strongly. However, Larson has always been an advocate for racing in as respectable a manner as possible. Hence, fans were understandably upset over the Larson-Hamlin fiasco. While Hamlin had initially exhibited a nonchalant attitude towards the crash, it was only much later that he revealed something that was disheartening for the fans.

Ahead of the Richmond race, Denny Hamlin had taken part in a pre-race presser that had clarified a lot of things about the mentality of NASCAR drivers after questions regarding his actions at Pocono, and the consequential incidents that ensued. 

Do you expect to be raced differently in the coming races kind of as a target for moves like this going forward or do you think the aggression that you’ve talked about is so high that everyone’s going to get moves like this put on them?” reporters asked him in reference to the Pocono race. 

Yeah, I think that it’s the field is like this. You’ll see it in turn one on a restart. No one really cares about what, you know, others have done to you or you’ve done to others. They’re just trying to get all for themselves and so that’s just the nature of uh of racing the cup series now.”

“So no, I don’t expect any different because stuff like that happens many times during the race that we don’t even see,” replied the 50-time Cup Series race winner. 

It is evident what he’s implying – that NASCAR drivers care about little more than their own performance and how they are faring. What other racers are doing or whether it is bothersome is the least of their concerns. Given the fact that all racers are expected to maintain a sportsman mentality when racing, this indeed comes as quite a surprise.

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With only 7 laps to go on a restart, things were pretty tight between Larson and Hamlin at Pocono last Monday. After a caution was introduced, Larson and Hamlin continued their racing where Hamlin hit Larson’s driver’s side. With his, Larson crashed into a wall, whereas Hamlin went on to win the race. Larson also feels that the wreck ruined his chances of bagging a better position in the race, for he could’ve scored far more playoff points if not for the untimely wreck. A furious Larson retaliated but was unable to affect Hamlin’s second win of the season. 

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While the two drivers are known to be friends, a slight bitterness has obviously persisted because of Larson’s 21st ranking. It remains to be seen whether such events get repeated at future races too. 

Read More: War Breaks Out Between Rick Hendrick & Joe Gibbs Aces After Kyle Larson’s Retaliation Triggers Denny Hamlin’s “Penalty” Rant