This NASCAR season, all eyes have been on Denny Hamlin, whose contract with his longtime team Joe Gibbs Racing expires at the end of 2023 season.
Hamlin has driven for JGR for his entire Cup Series career, and both driver and team repeatedly said that they hoped to continue working together beyond 2023. But as the season dragged on and no extension was signed for Hamlin to remain in the #11 Toyota for 2024, speculation began to swirl that the parties would ultimately end up having to part ways after being unable to reach a deal.
The contract situation began to draw parallels to negotiations between Joe Gibbs Racing and Hamlin’s former teammate Kyle Busch last year. Both Busch and JGR claimed that they hoped to get a deal done, but ultimately Busch ended up leaving to drive for Richard Childress Racing this season after negotiations fell apart.
There was also the added complication of Denny Hamlin owning his own Cup Series team, 23XI Racing, along with NBA superstar Michael Jordan. 23XI also runs Toyotas, but there’s been chatter that Ford had been courting the team to switch manufacturers, which would have complicated the possibility of Hamlin remaining in a Toyota with Gibbs.
But today, Hamlin and Gibbs announced that they’ve finally reached a deal, and JGR avoided losing yet another superstar in what would have been yet another embarrassment for the team.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Denny Hamlin made the announcement that the driver signed a multi-year deal to remain in the #11 car for 2024 and beyond:
”It is amazing to think it has been almost 20 years since J.D. first saw him race and we signed him to that first contract. He has been a big part of Joe Gibbs Racing ever since then and we look forward to that continuing for years to come.”
And Hamlin said that he’s excited to finally have contract negotiations behind him:
”Joe Gibbs Racing has been my home for almost 20 years now. My relationship with Joe, my team, and everyone at JGR means a lot to me. We have accomplished so much together over the years. I’m excited to finally announce this so we can put all our focus on chasing the championship.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs joined Hamlin on his podcast, Actions Detrimental, to discuss the deal, with Hamlin saying that he hopes he’s able to end his driving career at JGR:
“The willingness for you to take a chance on me nearly 20 years, and then still here when I’m 42 years old to want to continue this relationship for years to come, so thank you.”