NASCAR: Denny Hamlin Speaks Out About Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing Needing to ‘Earn Its Own Trophies’

by Samantha Whidden

NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin recently chatted with Jim Rome on The Jim Rome Show following the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. During the interview, Rome asked various questions about 23XI Racing and thoughts about Bubba Wallace’s performance with 23XI Racing.

In September 2020, Denny Hamlin and NBA superstar Michael Jordan announced 23XI Racing, and No. 23 for the 2021 season. At the time, the duo announced that Wallace would drive. “Michael and I have a shared vision for this team,” Hamlin revealed in a press release at the time. “So it’s exciting to see it reflected in the team name and on the race car with the iconic number 23 that Michael made famous.” 

During the interview, Rome asks Denny Hamlin why the 23XI team’s trophy case is currently empty. Hamlin answers, “Well, we keep it empty for a simple reason: we gotta earn it. There’s no past success that means you’re entitled to anything today.” Denny further shares that the team has to earn its own trophies and not just rest on the “laurels” that he and Michael [Jordan] have accomplished in their careers.”

Denny also says that during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, he thought about what’s going to happen when he retires and that’s when he started thinking about starting a race team. “We’re sitting around for eight weeks during the lockdown and I’m thinking, well, is this what retirement is like? You know, middle of the summer and I’ve got nothing going on and I can’t golf every single day.” 

Denny Hamlin then adds, “So, I figured I needed to have a job and something I’m passionate about. Obviously, racing is something I’ve been doing for a long time and it’s a sport I kinda know the business.” 

Denny Hamlin’s Career on NASCAR Race Tracks

Denny Hamlin is a professional stock car racing driver who competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving No. 11 Toyota Camry and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving No. 54 Toyota Supra, both for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has won a total of 44 NASCAR Cup Series races, which includes the Daytona 500 race in 2016, 2019, and 2020. 

Denny recently shared his thoughts about Bubba’s performance this season, “Bubba has to continue to evolve as a driver. Put the work in and concentrate on how he can do his job to the best of his ability. Use all of the tools that are at his disposal.”

While Denny Hamlin is continuing to remain optimistic about the team’s progress, there is still tension between him and Bubba. Last month, a rift notably seemed to form within the team, and it was reported that Hamlin was upset about Bubba’s track performance. 

Other sources have revealed that Denny has an issue with Wallace’s attitude during races and doesn’t believe he has been much of a “team player” during this series. Bubba is sitting in 21st place in the points standings but seven spots below the playoff cut line. He is now behind 14th place driver, Chris Buescher, by 23 points for the final playoff spot, with 55 points being the max point total for non-winner of any race.