Denny Hamlin has been outspoken throughout his NASCAR Cup Series career. His podcast only amplified his voice. Earlier this week, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t hold back in his criticism of Kyle Larson, suggesting the 2021 champion’s move to the Bristol dirt, where he ran Ryan Preece into the outside wall, was nothing new.
A few days later, Chad Knaus continued to make guest appearances NASCAR racing hub. The Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competitions didn’t elaborate on what happened to Larson and Preece, but did discuss this coming weekend’s race in Martinsville and couldn’t help but shoot at the three-time Daytona 500 winner.
Denny Hamlin blames Kyle Larson for Ryan Preece incident
This week on his actions harmful Podcast, Denny Hamlin reviewed the race on the Bristol dirt, including the hot topic of discussion – the brewing conflict between Ryan Preece and Kyle Larson. And the 42-year-old didn’t gloss over who he thinks was responsible for starting it all.
“I’ve seen it. And it looks like Kyle Larson,” Hamlin said. “That’s what he does. Kyle’s one of my best friends, but I have to exclaim a bit at this point. Kyle’s one of those drivers who puts you where you need to raise Do you raise your hand if this sounds familiar?
“He’s done it to me a couple of times on a street course. He’ll get tired of me contesting my positions, so he’ll just kick me into the grass. He’ll just say, “Okay, either you can lift or you go through that grass over there.” And I think he wanted to get away from Preece, so he just accelerated and said, ‘Okay, I’ll come up and you can lift the fence or go in.’ Preece didn’t lift and was driven into the fence.
“Larson is wrong here. Preece stood his ground. I couldn’t stand being crowded. He didn’t want to face the choice of picking him up or jailing him, and when he got back to Larson he handed the business over a little bit. And Larson’s pissed because he’s like, ‘Well, hey, it was an hour and a half ago. Can’t you just stop being a kid and get over it?’
“Larson wouldn’t get over it. I raced with Larson. He holds grudges when he contacts you. No question. I think Larson came into this weekend with a not very good attitude. We saw it in his pre-race comments.
“Again, I’m really good friends with the guy here, but each person needs to be called out individually. That wasn’t Ryan Preece’s fault. You can argue all you want, but then Kyle went straight down the track on the backstretch and tried to screw the 41 and wrecked himself in the process.
Chad Knaus shoots Hamlin for his speeding penalties
This week Chad Knaus performed one of his regular guest appearances NASCAR racing hub where he spoke about the upcoming race this weekend in Martinsville and offered his thoughts on who will win in a head-to-head match between Hamlin and his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr at the half-mile circuit.
“I think the easy pick is Denny Hamlin,” admitted Knaus. “But I’ll go the other way. I don’t think I saw the consistent performance of the No. 11 team as what we would expect and what it would take to go to Martinsville and play at that level.
“It’s too busy. We have a lot of pit stops. It’s a difficult pit lane. Reboots are problematic. You can accelerate on the pit lane. Not that Denny ever drives too fast. So I will go with the number 19.”
Best among active drivers in Martinsville
Knaus’s sarcastic remark about Hamlin not speeding was in reference to the Richmond race a few weeks ago, when the number 11 was busted a couple of times by NASCAR police for speeding on the pit lane .
It is undeniable that Hamlin’s performance so far in 2023 has not been up to his standard with just a couple of top 10 finishes in the first eight races of the season. But it’s also hard to argue with his past successes at Paperclip, where he has the most wins of any active rider with five. Truex is closest at three.
We’ll see if the JGR rider can find his form at a track that has served him well in the past. And, as Knaus has indicated, avoiding overspeed penalties or any type of error will be crucial for this to happen.
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