Denny Hamlin signed a multiyear contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing, and his 23XI Racing team will remain with manufacturer Toyota, Hamlin said on his “Actions Detrimental” podcast Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Hamlin was not expected to leave JGR, but his expiring contract aligned with Toyota’s deal with the 23XI team Hamlin co-owns with Michael Jordan. That made negotiations tricky and they stretched well beyond the window for what would have otherwise been an easy decision for Hamlin to stay at JGR.
- The 42-year-old Hamlin continues to be one of NASCAR’s top drivers, winning his 50th career race last month.
- Hamlin is still in search of his first career Cup title, but has made four appearances in NASCAR’s championship race and finished second in the 2010 Chase for the Cup. He is also a three-time Daytona 500 winner.
- 23XI spoke to Ford about possibly switching manufacturers, but ultimately Toyota was able to retain the team and extend their agreement.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Why was this move the best choice for all parties?
That Hamlin and 23XI explored their options created some interesting hypotheticals on what would happen if they ended jumping to a different manufacturer, but in the end it made the most sense for all involved to reach a deal.
JGR wasn’t going to find a better available driver than Hamlin, who has won 50 Cup Series races and is perennially a championship contender.
Meanwhile, Hamlin was unlikely to secure a seat with a team comparable to JGR, one of NASCAR’s preeminent organizations that routinely fields the fastest cars.
And 23XI leaving Toyota — along with its tight alliance with JGR — was going to place the third-year team in the unenviable position of going out on its own while maintaining the level of competitiveness it has enjoyed since its formation. To do that would be difficult and certainly present numerous hurdles 23XI may not be able to clear successfully. — Bianchi
What’s next for Hamlin, JGR and 23XI?
On Hamlin’s podcast, Gibbs said the deal was for “a few” more years. Terms were not disclosed, but if that’s a three-year deal, it would take Hamlin through his age 45 season — which is around the time many recent drivers have been retiring (although Kevin Harvick has raced until age 47). Either way, that should give Hamlin a couple more realistic shots at a title before the inevitable decline all drivers go through.
Meanwhile, it allows JGR to maintain a veteran presence even if Martin Truex Jr. decides to retire after next season and would help with a gradual transition to younger drivers. Hamlin has also been somewhat of a mentor to Ty Gibbs, the rookie Cup Series driver who is the grandson of Joe Gibbs, and he is a stable presence as the longest-tenured driver in team history.
Lastly, the agreement allows 23XI to grow while maintaining its strong alliance with JGR. Teams rely on manufacturer support for many aspects of finding speed, and Toyota’s renewed commitment means Hamlin and Jordan will be able to see their team win races for years to come. — Gluck
What Hamlin said
“Joe Gibbs Racing has been my home for almost 20 years now,” Hamlin said. “My relationship with Joe (Gibbs), 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.”
(Photo: Logan Riely / Getty Images)