Denny Hamlin (HHP/Chris Owens Photo)
Denny Hamlin will start on pole for Sunday's race. (HHP/Chris Owens Photo)

Hamlin On NASCAR’s Le Mans Entry: ‘Where’s The Transparency Of It?’

Denny Hamlin isn’t afraid to express himself via social media.

It didn’t take long for him to offer his two cents on March 17 after NASCAR announced plans to field a special Garage 56 entry in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the form of a modified Next Gen car prepared by Hendrick Motorsports.

 

In his second year as co-owner of 23XI Racing, Hamlin’s opinion carries a little more weight than it did in 2020 when he was just a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

So what exactly are Hamlin’s issues with NASCAR’s planned visit to France next year?

First, as he tweeted, Hamlin doesn’t appreciate that he and others didn’t get a memo about the announcement ahead of time.

“Finding out through a press conference is not OK,” Hamlin told reporters last Saturday at Circuit of The Americas. “We have too many people in place, NASCAR has too many executives for that to have slipped through the cracks. Not that it slipped through the cracks, but like, where’s the transparency of it?”

The news was announced via a press conference ahead of the 12 Hours of Sebring. In attendance were NASCAR President Steve Phelps, team owner Rick Hendrick and NASCAR CEO and Chairman Jim France.

MORE: BJ McLeod: ‘So Much Closer’ To Front of Pack with Next Gen Car

The press conference marked the first time since France assumed the role in August 2018 that he had taken questions from the media in a formal press setting.

Hamlin’s other bone to pick is competition-based and the fact that one team, Hendrick Motorsports, is behind the effort.

“There’s certainly some performance advantages that every company is gonna be concerned with,” Hamlin said. “Short of us being allowed to have the same track time, I do not see any way possible that they will not have an advantage and (Hendrick) is a team that already has won more races than anyone this season with the Next Gen.”

Following Sunday’s race at COTA, four of the six Cup Series races so far have been won by Chevrolets. Of those four, three have been won by Hendrick drivers.

This season aside, Hendrick Motorsports’ overall success was touted during the press conference.

“I talked to Rick along the way if it would be something that he would be interested in doing,” France said. “He’s our champion team, winningest team in our Cup Series. I felt like it would be very, very important if he would represent our sport in this big event.

“I’m thrilled to say we’re sitting up here together.”

Said Hamlin: “From my standpoint, it seemed like the decision was made and they’ll kind of figure out the details later.”

Would Hamlin have been happier with NASCAR sending a Next Gen entry that was worked on by all three manufacturers?

“Maybe no one in NASCAR,” Hamlin initially said. “Or you could just pick, ‘Alright, these three guys from a Ford team, these three guys from a Toyota team, these three guys (from Chevrolet).’ It’d be a universal body. Something of that nature, seems like that would be a better and fair way to do it.

“But again, this is kind of them doing their thing and what they want to do and I understand their reasoning to want to do it. I just thought (from) a team owner stand point, I’m concerned about how is it not an advantage? You cannot convince me right now that it won’t be. .. Yeah, they need more (road course time).”

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