What NASCAR Drivers Have to Say on F1’s Embarrassing Debut at Las Vegas

Published 11/20/2023, 4:43 AM EST

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Formula 1 and NASCAR, both bastions of speed, have their unique flavors, often leading their fans to march to the beat of different drums. Yet, it seems that NASCAR drivers themselves are quite smitten with Formula 1’s allure. Need proof? Just look at the number of NASCAR drivers who flocked to witness the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix. Kyle and Kurt Busch didn’t waste any time heading to the grand spectacle in Las Vegas, fulfilling a dream Kurt Busch had harbored for years. Denny Hamlin was also spotted in town, eager to immerse himself in the F1 experience.

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However, the F1’s rocky start in Vegas didn’t escape the critical eyes of the NASCAR community. NASCAR drivers, including Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, and Bubba Wallace didn’t hold back their thoughts on F1’s Vegas debut. It appears they had a field day commenting on it.

NASCAR drivers poke fun at Formula 1’s Las Vegas debut

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Formula 1’s first outing in Las Vegas turned out to be more of a comedy of errors than a smooth ride, and NASCAR drivers didn’t miss a beat in making light of the situation. The F1 practice day, hyped up to be a powerful affair, ended up being a damp squib. Fans, who had shelled out a pretty penny for tickets, were left watching a measly eight minutes of on-track action in the initial four hours.

The culprit? A rogue manhole cover that wreaked havoc on Carlos Sainz Jr‘s car. The hiccup led to an eight-minute first practice and a final practice that only started around 2:30 a.m. local time. After a lengthy delay, the second session finally kicked off, extended by 90 minutes to compensate for the earlier fiasco. However, after a six-hour delay, fans were shown the exit, much to their dismay.

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NASCAR drivers had a field day with this. Ryan Blaney, for instance, quipped about the long downtime on Twitter, comparing it to having a full meal: “I thought Pocono front stretch was long, but the F1 Vegas “backstretch” or sector 3, is absolutely insane. Could have dinner AND dessert.”

Bubba Wallace then jumped in, ripping off a tweet by Jordan Bianchi. In response to Bianchi’s use of “auspicious,” Wallace cheekily remarked, “Bro…auspicious?!?? That word is more out there than some of the sh*t you wear.”

William Byron, on the other hand, didn’t make a direct comment, but his reaction retweet to an awkward moment involving Checo Perez on track was telling. His simple “Hahaha” was definitely a subtle jab at the F1 drama.

 

Denny Hamlin, a prominent voice in NASCAR, also weighed in. When a fan quoted a tweet by Austin Cindric and lamented the difficulty of meeting F1 icons like Lewis Hamilton, contrasting it with the more approachable NASCAR scene, Hamlin served up a sarcastic, philosophical take: “Double edge sword. If something is easy to get it’s usually not very valuable.” 

Cindric from Team Penske took a more pragmatic approach, comparing the value for money between F1 and NASCAR tickets. He pointed out the accessibility of NASCAR events, saying, “You buy a general admission ticket (at NASCAR), and you can come take a selfie with your favorite driver and get an autograph nine times out of 10, whereas if I go to [a] Formula 1 race, I’m never seeing Lewis Hamilton.”

But it wasn’t all jests and jabs. Several drivers, including Denny Hamlin, contemplated the growing popularity of F1 and its potential impact on NASCAR, indicating a mix of rivalry and respect between the two worlds of racing.

NASCAR drivers reflect on Formula 1’s growing appeal

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As per autoweek.com, NASCAR star Denny Hamlin is optimistic that Formula 1’s resurgence in Las Vegas could spell good news for NASCAR. He believes that once F1 packs up and leaves U.S. shores, leaving fans hungry for more high-speed thrills, NASCAR stands ready to fill that gap. Hamlin emphasized NASCAR’s unique draw, its unparalleled fan access: “NASCAR’s strongest, biggest asset is the access that fans have, and that’s why I always encourage people go to a race, because it’s unlike any other sporting event. I’ve never seen anyone go to [a race] one time and say that they didn’t have a great time.”

Ross Chastain, who hopped on the F1 fan wagon a decade ago, shared his enthusiasm: “I love it. I think a rising tide raises all ships.” He looks at F1’s popularity as a boon for the entire motorsports community.

Todd Gilliland, another Cup Series driver, echoed this sentiment, noting the potential for mutual growth: “It’s really good for their sport, motorsports in general. And hopefully, we can see a little bit of growth in our own sport because of that. The more motorsports fans in the world, the better for everyone.”

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One move that significantly boosted F1’s fan base was the “Drive to Survive” documentary series. Perhaps, NASCAR might consider taking a leaf out of F1’s book in terms of fan engagement and storytelling to widen its own fan base.

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

875Articles

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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