Denny Hamlin didn’t spell out the word a la Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver used the word “relax” when asked about this contract.
“There’s a seven-time champion that’s having a bad year — I’m having a bad month,” Hamlin said.
The 37-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been a recent focus for those who enjoy NASCAR silly season, which has ramped up in the middle of a winless season as radio and television pundits question where young development drivers are going to land.
Hamlin, however, just started a new long-term deal at JGR.
“I’m around for a long time,” he said. “I’m going to be much grayer than I’m showing right now when my contract is done.”
Toyota Racing has built a profound – and talented – racing family that has seen many drivers already graduate into the Cup Series. But there are still many more in the pipeline — and currently, not enough seats.
In this case, Christopher Bell is the topic of conversation.
With Bell on a hot streak in the Xfinity Series, many within the sport have been discussing when he will move to the Cup Series and where that will be. Enter those looking for Bell, who has won the last two Xfinity Series races, to replace Hamlin.
Asked a few weeks ago on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast about his future and potential retirement, Hamlin said:
“I’d say I have a timeline, but it’s a very vague one. I’m 14 years in now; I’m not going to go another 14, that’s for sure. I’m not going to be Mark Martin. But I’d like to go a little bit longer. I’ve got a good long-term contract now that we just started this year that goes for a while, and maybe do another little short one after that. But that’d be about it.
“Not because I don’t love the sport. I want to go as long as I’m competitive, obviously. But that’s going to be right around the time my kids are going to start to be into sports or whatever they’re into, and I really want to be around for that.”
Hamlin has 31 wins in 454 career starts