Despite Reluctance From Joe Gibbs, Denny Hamlin Reveals How He Decided to Go Against His Word & Fightback Ruthless NASCAR

Published 03/20/2023, 3:27 PM EDT

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Earlier last week, Denny Hamlin landed himself in a lot of hot water. It all kicked off at the Phoenix Raceway when the Joe Gibbs Racing driver tangled with his rival, Ross Chastain. However, that would have been the end of that if it had not been for the next day’s episode of Actions Detrimental.

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Over there, Hamlin pretty much admitted that his contact with Chastain was intentional. Evidently, NASCAR was listening in, as they slapped him with a 25-point penalty and a $50,000 fine.

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Initially, he elected not to appeal against the decision. However, a few days later, surprisingly did a volte-face and decided to appeal against the penalty.

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He said in the latest episode of the Actions Detrimental podcast, “The reason I’m appealing is because I don’t agree with it. A lot of people are also asking, ‘You tweeted initially that you would not appeal to NASCAR. But you would appeal to the people here on this podcast today’. I had all intentions of doing that, how long is the list of notes that I had for our podcast today.”

“It had to be at least three episodes worth of talking points. All kinds of things that I was very very angry about.”

Why did Denny Hamlin abstain from appealing immediately?

The obvious answer would have been that Hamlin was literally the kid who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Following his public confession, appealing would have only made him look more foolish. As a result, it seemed like a wiser course of action for Hamlin to take the punishment without raising any questions.

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Moreover, Denny Hamlin also revealed that his team owner Joe Gibbs had some initial doubts, and he advised the three-time Daytona 500 winner not to appeal against the verdict. Luckily, Hamlin took Gibbs’ advice. However, the next move from NASCAR was what prompted Hamlin to change his mind.

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He continued, “I initially was not going to appeal this because my owner Joe Gibbs, who I love like family, called me. He says, ‘Hey, this is obviously not ideal but I’ve talked to sponsors, talked to the team. We just want to let this go. We just want to move on and everyone’s fine. Let’s just not drag it out and move on.’ I was like, ‘Fine. It’s not what I like but I’ll do it. I need to be a good teammate and someone that respects when my team owner asks me to do something.'”

What made him change his mind all of a sudden?

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After consulting his team, he was all ready to continue this course of action. However, something happened the following day that made him change his mind. Hamlin received an implicating message from NASCAR that eventually changed his mind. After another meeting with his team, as well as Joe Gibbs himself, Hamlin elected to appeal the decision.

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Hamlin revealed, “So I slept on it and I woke up and I got the email from NASCAR. The things that they said I did. I called Joe back and said, ‘Joe, I didn’t do any of these things’. He says, ‘I don’t know, let me just get the team together. Let me get Dave Alpern here, get your crew chief, and other executives. And let’s talk this out’. He put me on speaker phone and I explained to everyone exactly here’s what they said I did. This is not truthful, this is not right. At the end of it, they just said, ‘We understand, if you want to appeal, we support you.'”

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For now, it remains to be seen how everything will play out. So far, there is no word on whether the decision will be overturned or amended. In the worst-case scenario, the NASCAR officials might uphold the punishment. At the same time, the best possible outcome could see the points penalty rescinded.

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Written by:

Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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