“He Stole From Me”- Denny Hamlin “Pi**d Off” Over Michael Jordan’s Prodigy’s Bitter Kansas Snub

Published 09/11/2023, 8:29 PM EDT

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Holding the reins for 63 laps straight, Denny Hamlin narrowly missed the top spot at Kansas, finishing a close second. If his visible frustration post-race is anything to go by, one can only tip one’s hat to Kyle Larson‘s patience, given that he led an eye-popping 99 laps only to land in fourth. What seemed destined to be Larson’s crowning glory was briefly snatched by Hamlin but then ultimately slipped through his fingers into the eager grasp of Michael Jordan‘s rising star in the race’s twilight moments.

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Never one to bite his tongue, a disgruntled Hamlin has taken to the airwaves with his podcast, shedding light on the Kansas whirlwind, while drawing parallels with Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch‘s triumphant moments on the track.

Denny Hamlin’s twin challenges of wearing the shoes of a driver and an owner

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Ever since Hamlin revved his engine in NASCAR, he’s been known to have a fire in his belly. A case in point: his fierce competitiveness was on full display during the Pocono race, where he was itching for that golden 50th win, even if it meant putting his bond with Kyle Larson on the line.

Though it was Hamlin’s brainwave on a golf course that led to the formation of a NASCAR team with basketball legend Michael Jordan, it’s clear he’s still got more driver than the owner in his blood. Contrast this with Brad Keselowski, who stands by his drivers come rain or shine and puts the team first, and it’s evident Hamlin’s still juggling the dual roles.

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On his podcast, ‘Actions Detrimental’, Hamlin bared it all. Commenting on Tyler Reddick’s Kansas victory, he remarked, “That was one of the most painful second finishes. When Kurt won, I was really excited; Bubba won- really excited again; now this one, I was definitely more pi**ed off as a driver than was happy as an owner.”

Further adding about being the owner of a team, he expressed, “I have found myself definitely more in driver mode this weekend than of like- you know, being happy for them. […] These are my guys, right? But having to take a picture with Tyler next to the trophy, he stole from me- su*ked. It su*ked so bad.”

Perhaps Hamlin is still finding his feet in the sea of responsibility, seemingly more tethered to Joe Gibbs Racing than his own venture, 23XI Racing. If he’s toying with the idea of fully committing to his own team in the future, he’ll need to wear the boss hat more convincingly.

Besides that, after all, by his own admission in a post-race chat, maybe he had eyes only for the HMS driver and lost sight of the bigger picture. So why blame the dilemma of hanging between being an owner and a driver?

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Did Joe Gibbs’ golden boy fumble the ball at Kansas on his own accord?

While Denny Hamlin might be singing the blues about clinching P2, it’s crystal clear that a momentary slip cost him the crown. According to motorsports.com, Hamlin spilled the beans post-race, revealing he was thrown off by Kyle Larson during the restart and hence could not analyze the whole situation from a broader frame.

“[Larson] was just laying back so much. I was trying to back up to him,” he remarked. “Should have just kind of focused forward, probably. It gave [Reddick] an opportunity to get up there in front of us. Just kind of sleeping on the restart, looking in the rearview instead of looking in the front.”

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Well, not that the Kansas race has taken a back seat, but Hamlin would definitely want to do well to turn over a new leaf for the upcoming showdown at Bristol. If past performances are anything to go by, Bristol could very well be Hamlin’s playground to reclaim his mojo.

Watch This Story | Denny Hamlin Lashes Out at Michael Jordan’s Driver for Ruining His Darlington Performance

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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One take at a time

Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer for EssentiallySports. Her ability to capture the spirit of the exhilarating races and relay the enthusiasm to her readers distinguishes her as a sports journalist. Neha's articles strike a nice balance between technical accuracy and story-telling.
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Edited by:

Sharan Nair

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