Ex-Yankees Manager Joe Girardi Fanboys Over Denny Hamlin

Ex-New York Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, in 2017.

Getty Images Ex-New York Yankees manager, Joe Girardi.

Who knew? Joe Girardi, the former New York Yankees manager, is a big NASCAR fan. And he’s especially fond of Denny Hamlin.

A big league ball player and a self-avowed health nut, Girardi told NASCAR legend Kevin Harvick on  Harvick’s April 11 “Happy Hour” podcast that he started getting into NASCAR back when he was playing for the Yankees.

Once again, Harvick’s Happy Hour podcast delivers a strong interview with a professional outside of racing.

Girardi played in the MLB from 1989 to 2003, bouncing mostly between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees. He finished his playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Girardi gained prominence, however, as manager of the New York Yankees. He led the team from 2008 to 2017.

The Yankees won the World Series with Girardi as manager, in 2009. After being let go by the Yankees in 2017, Girardi was eventually named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020.

Following a dreadful start, he was let go by the Phillies organization during the 2022 season. Girardi is now an analyst for the Yankees on the YES Network.

How Joe Girardi Became a NASCAR Fan

Girardi’s favorite NASCAR driver? Retired. Though it’s probably Harvick, as he implies. Girardi’s favorite current driver, however, is Denny Hamlin.

On Harvick’s Happy Hour, Girardi explained his reasoning for “stanning” Hamlin: “He’s always in the mix, no matter what. That’s exciting to me because that’s a champion, a guy that’s always in the mix.”

Girardi told Harvick that long-time Yankees trainer, Gene Monahan, got him hooked on racing. “Gene took me to my first race in Rockingham, North Carolina, and then I continued to go with him a few [times] every year.”

He then told Harvick the story of going to the Daytona 500 with Monahan.

“We got up early that morning and drove over. And the race is about to start, and Gene’s walking right down between the cars, and I’m thinking ‘Aren’t we going to get in trouble? Shouldn’t we get behind the wall? These guys got the cars started. But everyone loved Gene, and Gene just kinda did what Gene wanted to do. I’ve fallen in love with it.”

Monahan now works for Hendrick Motorsports and has a highly controversial X (Twitter) account.

Kevin Harvick Is a Good Interviewer

As much as Girardi talked about NASCAR, Harvick talked about baseball. Harvick admitted he is a fan of major league baseball, especially now that the MLB is focused on “shortening the game.”

Harvick asked Girardi for his opinion on whether shortening the game has caused more player injuries, suggesting it has. But Girardi offered an interesting counter view. By shortening the game, Girardi said, players are, in effect, playing about “twenty less games.”

This is a “substantial” reduction on wear and tear on the players, which should lengthen their careers. Girardi said he does not believe the pitch clock rules are the reason behind a recent rash of serious pitcher injuries.

Harvick and Girardi then delved into the leadership qualities of Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge. Kevin Harvick continues to deliver an insightful program. It’s surprising how few listeners he has, and how few followers his show has on X — less than 5,000 as of April 11, 2024.