“I Couldn’t Commit to Joe [Gibbs]”- Denny Hamlin Reveals Career Jeopardizing Roadblock Amidst JGR Contract Extension

Published 09/05/2023, 8:04 PM EDT

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Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing have been an inseparable duo in the Cup series. The #11 Toyota FedEx Camry has been an integral part of the team’s history, increasing their tally of Cup Series wins by 50. However, speculations over the iconic duo falling apart have been making the rounds for months now. But Hamlin has silenced the rumors as he penned down a multi-year contract extension with JGR yesterday.

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Although Hamlin’s signature has sealed the deal, the rumors can’t be considered baseless. The 42-year-old driver had certain doubts over his future and the feasibility of the renewal with JGR as he cleared everything in a new revelation.

Denny Hamlin needed his ‘interests aligned’ with Joe Gibbs’

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In 2005, Denny Hamlin ran seven races for Joe Gibbs Racing. No one would have expected that this could be the start of something special, as it laid the foundations for one of the sport’s best drivers in current times. On the other hand, team owner Joe Gibbs will be wary of letting another superstar on their roster go after the fiasco with Kyle Busch last season. Speaking on SiriusXM Radio, Hamlin discloses details about the vision shared by him and the team moving forward with the deal.

“Yeah I mean, I think the goals are very similar, but you know, it’s just different when you have just the driver’s contract,” states Hamlin.

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“You’re just trying to figure out if this is the best organization to win races with. That’s all you’re really concerned about. You know, does the money match the performance? That’s what the team’s looking at from their perspective. You’ve got other elements like you know, a race team involved and I have to make sure that my interest stays aligned.

Being the owner of another growing team in the Cup, Hamlin arrived at a crossroads when it came to choosing his future team. 23XI Racing has continued to improve with time and was another viable option for him to be a driver-owner.

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However, the main reason that came in as a hindrance to Hamlin’s assurance on the extension was something quite different. He reveals more about the same as he continues the conversation.

Hamlin pledges his fealty to Toyota

Denny Hamlin’s sponsors have undergone some changes this season. From FedEx to Yahoo! to Mavis Tires & Brakes, his primary sponsors have had a wide range of variety this season. Although Hamlin has expressed his desire to continue with his long-term partner FedEx going into the 2024 season, things are still unclear as to which organization will land Hamlin’s signature.

But sponsors have not been the bigger concern on Denny’s mind, as he claims. Apart from JGR and its sponsor, the other pillar of strength for the No. 11 has been the manufacturer, Toyota. With the partnership about to celebrate their 20th year together pretty soon, it’d have been abrupt if the dynamic between them changed all of a sudden.

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“There’s no way that I could drive for another manufacturer or drive for one manufacturer and own a team for another.” declares Hamlin.

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“There’s just too many blurred lines there, too much sensitive information that manufacturers have for that to be possible. We couldn’t, I couldn’t commit to Joe you know, for a long-term deal unless I knew that my team was going to have a long-term deal with Toyota, and with all those pieces aligned now, it made the process with Joe very, very seamless. That had been done for a very, very long time.”

With Marin Truex Jr. also committing his immediate future to Joe Gibbs and co, Hamlin’s extension will a major boost to their plans for the 2024 season. If all goes well, maybe we could see Denny Hamlin finally landing the elusive yet coveted Cup Series championship title.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As an engineering graduate, he has a strong affinity for cars, and it didn't take long for him to translate that into his love for the sport. He is a big fan of Kyle Busch and believes that the Richard Childress Driver still has his best years ahead of him.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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