Michael Jordan’s NASCAR Team Threatened With Financial Loss, Thanks to Denny Hamlin’s Provocation

Published 08/15/2023, 2:19 PM EDT

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If there is one race to which fans look forward after the prestigious Daytona 500, it is NASCAR’s yearly trip to Indianapolis. Opting to replace the Brickyard 400 Cup Series race, NASCAR shifted from Indy’s famed oval to the road course in 2021, much to the dismay of several fans. Despite the criticism, fans were treated to a racing spectacle like no other, which many considered much better than last season’s infamous wreck-fest.

Things took a turn this season as the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard witnessed an uncharacteristic race as only a single caution was flown. While the race was nothing short of phenomenal, the results have now put Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing team in a precarious spot, owing to Denny Hamlin’s prior provocations.

Knocked my #23 car out“: Denny Hamlin’s revelation on McDowell’s win


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The winner of the 2021 Daytona 500, Michael McDowell, joined the exclusive club of drivers who won both at Daytona and Indianapolis on Sunday. While his family and team were the backbones behind the finesse, there lurked another factor in the shadows. Rilling up the Phoenix native behind the curtains was Denny Hamlin, who unleashed a series of gibes on Twitter directed at McDowell. 

Having had enough of Hamlin’s taunts, Michael McDowell took up the burden on his shoulders to shut Hamlin up once and for all with his road course performance. Fast forward to Indianapolis, and the Front Row Motorsports driver handed Hamlin his answer.


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But that wasn’t all McDowell’s win did for Denny Hamlin. Inviting Michael McDowell for a chat on his Actions Detrimental podcast, Hamlin made a confession. “Now, Talladega, I’m gonna give you the nod on that one, I mean Daytona. In my mind, you’re a top-5 superspeedway racer. You’re just, you’re really good. It’s not by happenstance that you always put yourself in the right position at the right time. I try to put myself in the statistically the best, make the best decision to say which two guys would make it,” the 23XI Racing co-owner said.

Revealing how McDowell’s win could potentially jeopardize his team financially, Hamlin further added, “However, however, this is why people defy the odds. Michael McDowell defied the odds and put himself in the playoff picture. What people don’t know is that knocked my #23 car out of the owner’s playoffs. Now Bubba’s [Wallace] in it but we’re not in 23XI [Racing]…Bubba is in on drivers, currently out on owners.

To provide context for Hamlin’s words, driver championships and owner championships are different. After collecting points throughout the race, owners with the majority of points are then playoff eligible, contending for the owner’s championship. Teams also make big bucks owing to the owner’s points. With McDowell displacing 23XI Racing from the owners’ playoffs, Michael Jordan’s team could potentially miss out on earning huge sums of money.

Watch This Story: NASCAR Fans Divided Over Denny Hamlin’s Feud With Tony Stewart’s Drive

Having put his team in a precarious spot, Denny Hamlin then publicly accepted defeat.

Denny Hamlin was forced to eat his words


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One of Chase Elliott’s biggest allies, Denny Hamlin, has time and again backed the Hendrick Motorsports star’s playoff chances. With NASCAR moving into Indianapolis, Hamlin defended Elliott on his podcast, saying, “Chase Elliott is minus 40 with 4 races to go. You’re telling me he can’t make up 40 points in four races?…So you’re saying that Chase Elliott can’t make up 40 points on McDowell in the next 4 races?”

Failing to hunt down Michael McDowell during the final laps of the Verizon 200 at Indy, Chase Elliott claimed a second-place finish. With Elliott failing to live up to his expectations, Denny Hamlin was then forced to accept defeat publicly. Putting out a short statement on Twitter, Hamlin said, “Took two L’s today.”


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Read More: “When You Don’t Give a Damn” – Bubba Wallace Reveals His Mantra for the Regular Season as He Hangs On to the Playoffs

As NASCAR gears up for Watkins Glen next weekend, can Chase Elliott break free from his dry spell, or will Michael McDowell reign again? Stay connected to find out.


Written by:

Naman Neeraj


One take at a time

Naman Neeraj is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. This Motorsports buff has completed his undergrad in English Literature and has now set out to make a name for himself in the journalism field. Although he is new to the scene, he has been following motorsports for over a decade.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal