Denny Hamlin Puts NASCAR Leadership on Blast, Calls for Major Changes

Denny Hamlin

Getty Denny Hamlin prepares for a race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin has been vocal about the Next Gen car and the need for “2.0” throughout the 2022 Cup Series season. Now he has made additional comments calling for a complete redesign and new leadership.

Hamlin made the comments during a lengthy media availability at Talladega Superspeedway. He explained why he and Kevin Harvick have been vocal about safety and said that the other drivers will need to be able to step up once they are no longer racing. Hamlin also called for major changes to the car to improve both safety and competition.

“The car needs to be redesigned,” Hamlin said on October 1. “It needs a full redesign. I mean, it can still be called Next Gen, but it needs to be redesigned. It needs to be redesigned everywhere — front, middle, rear, competition. The whole thing needs to be redesigned.

“We’ve got a tough Martinsville race that’s coming up. It’s going to be tough. This thing is just going to get exposed for how bad it races, and that’s just part of it. The competition, safety, we’d like to have it all better, but certainly, we took a step back in safety and competition this year.”

Hamlin Said Drivers Threw Up Red Flags

Denny Hamlin

GettyDenny Hamlin called for new leadership during his media availability.

Hamlin made several comments during his media availability about the Next Gen car. Some of them revealed how he and his fellow drivers actually opted out of a documentary series in 2021 due to their safety concerns.

“It’s tough. We brought up these concerns with NASCAR last winter,” Hamlin said. “We, as the drivers, didn’t do that docuseries last year because we didn’t feel comfortable with this Next Gen car and the safety — the lack of safety testing — that had been done before they started announcing that they were going to run it.

“It’s just… we threw up red flags over a year ago, and they just didn’t respond. They just kept pushing that these cars gotta be on the race track at all cost. At all cost.”

NASCAR has a drivers’ advisory council that features former driver Jeff Burton and six active Cup Series competitors — Kurt Busch, Corey LaJoie, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Hamlin, and Daniel Suarez.

The goal is to present a unified voice to NASCAR about major concerns, but the drivers have expressed frustrations about the line of communication during the 2022 season. This has led to Hamlin, Harvick, and others going directly to the media with their comments about safety.

As Hamlin explained, there are many other drivers that have been vocal privately. They have shied away from making public comments like their veteran counterparts, but Hamlin would like for that tendency to change.

“I know a lot of these young guys are just happy to be here,” Hamlin said, “but they ain’t gonna be happy to be here when their brains are scrambled for the rest of their lives.”

Chase Elliott Also Addressed the Next Gen Concerns

Hamlin was far from the only driver that addressed the safety concerns with the Next Gen car. Kyle Larson said that he feels safer in his sprint car than he does in the Next Gen car while Chase Elliott said that “there is no excuse” for moving backward when it comes to safety.

Elliott made the comments during a media availability at Talladega Superspeedway. He said that “it blows him away” that there are these safety issues in 2022 considering all of the smart people that have worked on the development of the new cars. He also weighed in about the upcoming crash test in Ohio that NASCAR will hold.

“I haven’t heard any of the rumors and I haven’t heard much about that particular test,” Elliott said. “But heck, we had plenty of enough time to test this car, crash it, and do all the things that we need to do to ensure that some of these things aren’t happening that are happening now. We had a ton of time to do that. And this car was delayed an entire calendar year, on top of that. You have to think, we got an extra year of time to work on it and we’re still in this position.

“There’s no excuse for going backward. We have too many smart people, too much technology, too many years of crashing and racing at all of these same race tracks to have some of these things going on, in my opinion. Test next week or no test next week; we should not be in the position that we’re in. When you come out with a new product, you should take steps forward; not stay the same or go backward, especially in the safety category, in my opinion.”

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