Denny Hamlin Opens up on ‘Bad Decisions’ to Start 2022 Season

Denny Hamlin

Getty Denny Hamlin has made strong comments about his Atlanta wreck.

The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Cup Series race came to an early end for Denny Hamlin after a push wrecked both him and Kyle Larson. The driver of the No. 11 reacted to the incident with a simple statement — “I’m just making some bad decisions.”

Hamlin made the comment after exiting the infield care center at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He talked to reporters about the push of Larson that kicked off the wreck, and he explained that his 2022 season has just featured a lot of mistakes that have derailed strong runs.

“We had a really fast FedEx Camry,” Hamlin told FOX Sports after the incident. “I was just trying to help Kyle there, and I just needed to let him go off Turn 4. The track gets light there, the car starts to lift up, and that’s where I needed to back off of him and I just didn’t and spun him out. It is a shame. Our car was really fast.

“…Overall, just frustrating, but we are running well,” Hamlin continued. “We are just finishing horrible. I’m just making some bad decisions. It’s easy in retrospect to say I should have done this, and I should have done that. But in the moment, you are trying to battle for some stage points there, and we’ve got good grip, and I’m pushing him and everything is going well and then all of a sudden, the car lifts up and he’s gone.”

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The race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 29th-place finish, marked the third time in 2022 that Hamlin failed to complete all of the laps in a race. It continued his season of struggles that has featured a lack of top-10 finishes or exciting battles for the checkered flag.

Hamlin Has Remained Open About Struggles

The push that sparked the wreck was not the first “mistake” that Hamlin has acknowledged during the 2022 season. He also made strong comments after his trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway ended early due to a shifting incorrectly.

“Fastest car in the track today. Worst driver on the track today. Great improvements by everyone @JoeGibbsRacing and @ToyotaRacing. Get me to Phx.” Hamlin tweeted on March 6 after the No. 11 stalled on pit road. He followed this message up with a 13th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway, his best run of the year. 

The three-time Daytona 500 champion also provided some insight into the work that he continues to put in while focusing on improvement. He tweeted a photo that showed the sequential shifter, along with the caption of “One step at a time.”

The season will continue at Circuit of the Americas as Hamlin tries to right the proverbial ship. Whether he achieves this goal remains to be seen, but he will continue to provide insight each and every week.

The New Configuration of Atlanta Set Records

There were numerous questions about the new version of Atlanta Motor Speedway prior to the green flag being waved on March 20. Would the race be similar to those at Talladega Superspeedway and Talladega Superspeedway? The answer was not entirely clear.

There were moments where the race looked like something at one of the superspeedways, but the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 also set records. There were 46 total lead changes and 20 different leaders, more than multiple past Atlanta races combined. The previous record for Atlanta Motor Speedway, per Jayski’s Dustin Albino, was set in 1982 when there were 45 lead changes.

The track also featured 11 cautions, tying the track record and sending several drivers to the garage early. One, in particular, collected 13 cars and sent Larson sliding through the infield grass. Hamlin also sustained damage after hitting a spinning Tyler Reddick. Though both drivers were able to continue in the race before their wreck with roughly 100 laps remaining.

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