NASCAR perennial star Denny Hamlin is coming off his first Cup Series victory of the season, and while he may have punched his ticket to the playoffs already, the team he owns isn’t anywhere close.
In fact, they’ve been downright terrible these past two weeks.
Hamlin races for Joe Gibbs Racing, but he co-owns 23XI Racing with NBA legend Michael Jordan. That team field Bubba Wallace in the 23 car and Kurt Busch in the 45 car, and both have been struggling.
Hamlin took the checkered flag at Richmond Raceway, however due to a mechanical issue, Kurt Busch finished 35th, over 100 laps off the pace, and Bubba Wallace finished at the bottom in 26th. The previous week at COTA, Kurt Busch finished 32nd and Bubba Wallace didn’t finish after a loose lug nut resulted is a runaway wheel.
Three members if Wallace’s pit crew were suspended four races for the infraction.
Needless to say, that kind of racing is unacceptable and Denny Hamlin didn’t hold back when asked about it ahead of tonight’s race at Martinsville.
“I mean, again, just trying to stop the bleeding there. I said earlier this week, you know, it’s just, the win was really exciting until you get out of the car, and you look down the pylon and say, ‘what the fuck? Like, what’s going on?’
But it’s just, it’s agitating because it’s different things on different teams. But it’s just a two-week slump that we’ve got to get out of. We’re trying to address all the issues that there is.”
With both Bubba and Kurt, issues with the car and the crew have been a problem:
“The 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. And then, the freak thing that happens with the 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.”
Denny will look to keep the momentum going tonight at Martinsville, meanwhile, Bubba and Kurt will look to change theirs.
However, despite the win, Denny Hamlin sits at 20th in the Cup Series points standings, with Bubba close behind at 22nd. Kurt Busch sits at 18.
Trackhouse Racing, on the other hand, is off to one helluva start.
Like 23XI Racing, they’re also in their sophomore year as a team, both with two drivers for the first time, however Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez are in the midst of good seasons, with Chastain already winning a race (the first of his career and the first for Trackhouse).