“Can Be Done With One Phone Call” – Denny Hamlin Is Frustrated That NASCAR Won’t Add More Horsepower To Cup Series Cars

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin/NASCAR

As legendary NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby once said, “I want to go fast.”

And that’s what Denny Hamlin wants too, after practically begging NASCAR to add more horsepower to the Cup Series engines this weekend.

If you’re a NASCAR fan you’re probably familiar with how we got here but if not, let’s take a step back.

Just a few years ago, the NASCAR Cup Series cars ran engines that produced up to 900 horsepower. But starting in 2015, NASCAR began cutting that back in an attempt to both improve the racing and also save teams money by improving the durability and reliability of the engines. Less horsepower = fewer blown engines = less cost to replace. Or at least that was NASCAR’s thinking.

The new Next Gen cars, which debuted in 2022, currently run either a 510 horsepower package (at superspeedways like Daytona, Talladega and Atlanta) or 670 hp at all other tracks.

The result has been…well, disappointing, especially on short tracks and road courses.

Because the lack of horsepower makes it so much harder to pass, the result has been some snoozefest races at tracks that typically produce some of the best racing on the circuit – tracks like Bristol and Martinsville – and some embarrassingly boring races at Phoenix Raceway, the 1-mile track that hosts the championship race.

NASCAR did make some changes to the aero package of the car this past offseason in an attempt to make the short track racing better. But they kept the horsepower the same, and the results this past Phoenix were lackluster. Was it better than the past couple of years? Sure. Was it great? Far from it.

Denny Hamlin is in the unique perspective of being able to see both sides of the dilemma, both as a team owner and a driver. And for Hamlin, there’s an easy solution to make the racing better: More horsepower.

Since last year, Hamlin has been advocating for more horsepower in the Cup cars. And since Hamlin’s the owner of 23XI Racing as well as a driver, he’s uniquely qualified to address NASCAR’s claim that the lower horsepower is an attempt to save teams money.

And long story short, he says it’s BS.

Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend’s race at Phoenix, Hamlin said that the costs are the same no matter how much horsepower the engines have – and that engine builders have told him it would be an easy change to make:

“It can be done before next weekend, and they said it won’t change any of the durability that they’ve got. It can be done with one phone call and no additional money.”

And he thinks that would solve a lot of the problems with the short track racing that NASCAR has faced over the past couple of years:

“Absolutely. I think any horsepower you can add would make the racing better. It’s hard to pass because we’re all in the gas so much. So you have to get us out of the gas, either through the tire or the horsepower.

That combination is what makes passing so difficult. So the more you can get us out of the gas, which means if we have more horsepower we have to let off sooner, that gives the opportunity to overtake for the car that’s behind.

So 50 horsepower, while it may not be a gamechanger, any horsepower gain from here on out will be an advantage to passing.”

If it’s that simple, why hasn’t it been done yet? Hamlin said that’s a question for NASCAR CEO Jim France.

Now, NASCAR has also argued in the past that they’ve reduced horsepower in an attempt to attract new manufacturers, something that Denny said he doesn’t quite understand:

“There’s obviously other reasons. They’re trying to get other manufacturers in here, they’re trying to do this and that. It’s part of a bigger picture that I won’t understand, you won’t understand, no one really will understand. But we don’t need to sacrifice our actual product for trying to entice someone new. I think that if you put on great racing, people will want to come no matter what.”

So while Denny’s going to continue to advocate for more horsepower, he’s not really confident that anything will change:

“We’re going to continue to beat this horse until it finally gets some movement, but I don’t know that it will happen, just for reasons that we just will never understand. It will never get explained.”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock