Denny Hamlin’s Self Anointment Crucial for NASCAR’s Growth As Drivers Have Mellowed Out

Published 11/18/2023, 2:27 AM EST

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From the get-go, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have never minced their words when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by NASCAR drivers. Harvick, in particular, has often been seen as the mouthpiece for the drivers’ community. But now, with Harvick calling it off and hanging up his helmet, the big question is, who’s going to step into those shoes? The answer seems to be leaning towards none other than Denny Hamlin. Again, the notion isn’t just coming out of thin air.

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It was recently echoed by Jim Utter during a chat with Doug Rice. Utter hinted that Hamlin, known for his no-holds-barred approach, might gradually be slipping into that role, becoming the new outspoken advocate for drivers in the NASCAR world.

Jim Utter believes that with Kevin Harvick gone, there’s a vacuum created

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Kevin Harvick’s knack for speaking his mind, even when it lands him in hot water, has always set him apart. Remember how just last year, following a rant about the next-gen car’s safety, NASCAR clamped down on him and Stewart-Haas Racing for alleged modifications to his Ford at Talladega Superspeedway? NASCAR insider Jim Utter sees Denny Hamlin potentially stepping up to the plate.

Utter observes, “I think Denny has sort of, I don’t mean it in a bad way, but he sort of kind of anointed himself in that role in a way. But I think in part that’s because outside of Kevin, I am not sure, people in the past recently have really looked to step into that kind of role.

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He continued, “I think it’s been, sort of a vacuum, to be quite honest. Other than occasional people speaking up, on occasional issues of importance I really think the sport could do better if there was more of a collective driver voice.”

With his own podcast and his candid pre and post-race interviews, Denny Hamlin is never one to bite his tongue. His bold claim, “I beat your favorite driver,”  after winning the race was just a taste of that. 

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In fact, even Hamlin himself recently pointed out that most NASCAR drivers lack the guts to be as outspoken as he is. It’s clear that if there’s a new voice ready to fill the silence left by Harvick, Denny Hamlin is a strong contender for the job.

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Denny Hamlin calls out NASCAR drivers for staying silent

In a candid episode of his podcast released in October, Denny Hamlin didn’t pull any punches when it came to his fellow NASCAR drivers. He suggested it was high time they stepped up and voiced their concerns. 

Hamlin, responding to a question about the ease of being outspoken, especially compared to drivers at Hendrick Motorsports, didn’t mince words. “It drives me crazy no one else has got the balls to be,” he said. Hamlin pointed out that it’s not entirely the drivers’ fault, hinting at the pressure from higher-ups to keep them in line. As to what the authorities believe he said- “That’s not good. That’s stunting growth. That’s stunting star power.”

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“How Do I Win a Championship” – Fans Rub Salt in Denny Hamlin’s Recent Wounds After His Wild Meeting With Lewis Hamilton

Here’s hoping Hamlin’s call to arms resonates with his peers in NASCAR, encouraging them to speak their minds on issues like cars, tracks, management, or sponsors. It’s about time for more voices to join the chorus and bring about meaningful change in the world of racing.

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

914Articles

One take at a time

Controversies, gossip, and breakneck speeds? Count me in! While F1 has its charm, NASCAR helps me relive those "Roadrash" gaming days. My favorite among the drivers has to be Tyler Reddick. The 23XI Racing pilot is not only likable but also a complete beast when he is on track, more specifically, road courses.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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