Denny Hamlin Responds To Jeff Gordon Calling Him Too Controversial: “No One Else Has Got The Balls To Be”

Jeff Gordon Denny Hamlin NASCAR
Getty Images

You just knew Denny was going to have something to say about that one.

Jeff Gordon made headlines last week with his harsh words for Denny Hamlin, the outspoken driver of the #11 car and the co-owner of 23XI Racing alongside Michael Jordan.

The former driver, who now serves as the Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, discussed Hamlin and his outspoken antics during a recent interview on SiriusXM:

“Denny is trying to do things to stir up conversation, to get people at least having an opinion. Whether it’s a positive or negative one, you at least have an opinion. And the fact that he’s embracing that, I will give him kudos all day long. Go for it.”

But Gordon apparently doesn’t always approve of Denny’s outspoken personality – and wouldn’t want to deal with that on his own team:

“I wouldn’t want that to be one of our drivers.

It’s too controversial. To me it’s a distraction. I feel like, I want our drivers to go and build a fanbase by winning races and by being themselves.

And I think Denny’s being himself to a certain degree, but I think he’s also kind of, it’s like an alter-ego as well.”

And the four-time Cup Series champion seems to say the quiet part out loud with the next part, when he seems to say that drivers shouldn’t showcase their personality because their job is to appeal to sponsors:

“I want other guys in the sport to do stuff like that. But if they come to Hendrick Motorsports, and you can call us stiff, you can call us whatever you want, but we’re running a business and the business is to win races first. Take care of your sponsors, and let the sponsors market you. 

Let the sport figure out how to market you. Build your brand through who you are on social media, and be the best you that you can be, but if you really want to go to the racetrack focused on winning races, it’s hard to do that when you have a lot of distractions.

And if Denny thrives on that, great. But I just don’t think that it’s healthy within the organization when you have four drivers and you’re going in meetings together and you’re talking about how you go to the next race to win when you’re having to deal with some of those things.”

Well Denny’s obviously never afraid to speak his mind or ruffle feathers, so you knew it was just a matter of time before he responded to Gordon’s comments. And he did just that today on his podcast, Actions Detrimental.

“That sounds like a guy I don’t want to go to war with… I mean, Jeff Gordon said that?

That is ‘How to stunt NASCAR growth 101,’ is say, ‘Ah, that’s too controversial for us.’…

Well thank God I don’t drive for him.”

Hamlin also questioned whether Hendrick really practices what Gordon’s preaching, pointing out that their drivers have “great personalities” despite seemingly little marketing from their sponsors. (I dunno Denny, I would disagree that Hendrick’s drivers showcase much personality, but I digress…)

He also responded to Gordon questioning how a team can go into a competition meeting together while having to deal with the “distractions” that Denny creates:

“What is a distraction? That I’m getting booed? 

I go in Monday and I’m a professional, because that’s what professionals do. They go into a meeting and they act professional.”

Denny said that he would never run his team the way Gordon thinks, because it keeps drivers from becoming stars:

“I couldn’t disagree more.

I’m glad I drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m glad I run my team the way I run my team, because I will never run my team saying things like that.

That’s his opinion, he’s allowed to have his opinion, but certainly think that is the absolute wrong way to go if you want star power in this sport. You’re not going to find anyone that agrees with what he’s saying.”

And he said that although he understands why more drivers aren’t outspoken, he wishes that they were able to be:

“It drives me crazy that no one else has got the balls to be.

And it’s not the drivers’ fault, because they’ve clearly got white collars standing over the back of them making sure they don’t do it. And that’s not good. That is stunting growth. That is stunting star power.

And I believe we have stars in our sport, but they will never get seen because we’ve got that mentality looking over their shoulders.”

Denny also had a hilarious theory about why Gordon feels the way that he does:

“I think he’s been to one too many Burning Mans.”

I’ve gotta admit, I’m not a huge Denny Hamlin fan, but I’m starting to like him more because he just doesn’t give a sh*t. And I’m definitely on his side on this one.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock