Denny Hamlin Returns Fire at Jeff Gordon for Criticism of His Controversial Behavior

Denny Hamlin at Charlotte

Getty Denny Hamlin walks grid at Charlotte.

Denny Hamlin doesn’t shy away from saying what’s on his mind. His podcast allows him to do that weekly, with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver providing race recaps and addressing any racing-related topics of interest.

During the October 9 edition of his “Actions Detrimental podcast,” the three-time Daytona 500 winner was eager to discuss one particular topic of interest — Jeff Gordon’s critical remarks of him from the week before.

It all started during an October 4 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when the Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman talked about Hamlin and didn’t sugarcoat what he thought about the driver’s approach and playing the villain role.

“What I do agree with is Denny is trying to do things to stir up conversation. To get people, at least having an opinion, right?” Gordon said. “Whether it’s a positive or a negative one, you have an opinion. And the fact that he is embracing that, I’ll give him kudos all day long. Go for it. I wouldn’t want that to be one of our drivers.” 

The show host then questioned Gordon about why he didn’t want that for his HMS drivers.

“Because it’s too controversial. To me, it’s a distraction,” he said. “I feel like I want our drivers to go and build a fan base by winning races and by being themselves, but not doing things. And I think Denny is being himself to a certain degree, but I think he’s also kind of, it’s like an alter ego as well. 

“Again, I want other guys in the sport to do stuff like that. If they come to Hendrick Motorsports — and you can call us stiff. You can call us whatever you want. But we’re running a business, and a business is to win races first, take care of your sponsors, and let the sponsors market you. Let the sport figure out how to market you. Build your brand through who you are on social media and be the best you that you can be. 

“But, if you really want to go to the race track focused on winning races, it’s hard to do that when you have a lot of distractions. If Denny thrives on that, great. I just don’t think that it’s healthy within the organization when you have four drivers, and you’re going into meetings together and you’re talking about how you go to the next race to win when you’re having to deal with some of those things.” 

Denny Hamlin Responds to Jeff Gordon

Unsurprisingly, Hamlin jumped at the first chance to respond to Gordon’s remarks on his podcast. 

“That sounds like a guy I don’t want to go to war with,” Hamlin candidly admitted. “He’s like, ‘Hey I’ll go to war, but you get up front.’ Jeff Gordon said that? That is How to Stunt NASCAR Growth 101, is say, ‘Oh, that’s too controversial for us. Call us stiff.'”

A few moments later, when podcast co-host Jared Allen specifically brought up the four-time Cup Series champion’s comments about how it would be a distraction going into a competition meeting, Hamlin acted genuinely puzzled.

“What is a distraction? That I’m getting booed?” Hamlin asked. “I go in Monday, and I’m a professional because that’s what professionals do. They go into a meeting and they act professional. I think he’s been to one too many Burning Mans. 

“He’s basically saying I want them to be tidy, not controversial. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m glad I drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m glad I run my team the way I run my team because I will never run my team saying things like that. That’s his opinion. He’s allowed to have that opinion but certainly think that is the absolute wrong way to go if you want star power in this sport.”

Denny Hamlin Failed to Address Irony of Gordon’s Remarks

While Hamlin defended himself with Gordon and what he deems as controversial behavior, the JGR driver surprisingly failed to question the HMS exec about his own in-house controversy and what many would consider a distraction with the repeated issues between drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.

The two champion drivers have had multiple run-ins with each other in the last two seasons, causing front-page headlines for days after each respective incident. Elliott appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in September after the latest incident at Kansas to address the situation, insisting there were no problems with his teammate.

Hamlin steered clear of that subject and also didn’t discuss Elliott’s controversial move at Charlotte when he intentionally wrecked the No. 11 car and received a one-race suspension.

Was it by accident that Hamlin didn’t address those topics or was he just trying to avoid more controversy? The answer is pretty clear.

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