Denny Hamlin experienced a wide range of emotions at Richmond on April 3. He celebrated his first Cup Series win of the year but dealt with the frustration of seeing his two drivers at 23XI Racing finish outside of the top 25. Now he has called for the team to get out of its slump.
Hamlin addressed his team’s struggles during a media availability at Martinsville Speedway. He explained that Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch are both in a two-week slump and that the team needs to get back on track. Hamlin also provided some insight into less than enjoyable competition meetings.
“We’re trying to address all the issues that there is,” Hamlin said, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “The [No.] 23 car is, the pit crew’s not doing well. You know, I’m in a meeting with Joe Gibbs Racing, and I thank them for everything they do for me, and then we walk out of that meeting into another and I’m cussing them out because we’re just not doing a good enough job over there. So it’s just a very interesting thing that goes on, but that’s part of it.
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“And then, the freak thing that happens with the [No.] 45. We’ve got a new sponsor over there, and the car’s sitting in the garage for 100 laps. So it’s just, it’s agitating but it’s … hopefully, we look back on this two months from now and say, it’s just a little bump in the road because certainly, it’s not acceptable by any means.”
Busch & Wallace Have Struggled to Accumulate Points
The two 23XI Racing drivers started out the year with strong performances. Wallace finished second in the Daytona 500 before adding top-20 finishes at Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
However, a lost wheel and a mechanical issue ended his day at Circuit of Americas, resulting in only two points. He only added 11 more during the trip to Richmond Raceway and dropped two more places in the championship standings.
Busch, for comparison, posted a top-10 finish at Auto Club Speedway and top-fives at Phoenix Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway to keep himself in playoff contention. He reached fifth in the championship standings, but two consecutive finishes outside of the top 30 led to only seven combined points. Busch is now 18th in the championship standings and below the playoff cutline.
Both Drivers Have Wins at Upcoming Tracks
There are 19 races remaining in the Cup Series regular season, so both Busch and Wallace have time to make positive strides and get back into contention for the playoffs. They will pursue more points and wins at tracks where they each have previous trips to Victory Lane.
Wallace secured his first Cup Series win in 2021 at a superspeedway. He won the rain-shortened YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. He will have an opportunity to defend his win when the Cup Series returns to the Alabama track for the Geico 500 on April 24.
Busch, on the other hand, has six wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, the site of the April 17 dirt race. None of his wins have taken place on the dirt surface, but he has extensive success at the Tennessee short track. Busch also has a win at Dover Motor Speedway, the track that kicks off the month of May.
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