Denny Hamlin did not appreciate the views expressed on NBC by analyst and former driver Kyle Petty. Kyle is the son of Richard Petty, who is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The young Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) recently registered their first career wins in the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series. When asked about the future of JGR, Petty replied:
"You talk about [Bell] being 26, we’ve got Harrison Burton, you talk about Ty Gibbs. If I’m a veteran driver in the Gibbs organization, I’m looking over my shoulder and in the rearview mirror because I’m watching my replacement out there win the race, win races at the Xfinity level, win races at the Cup level. So that’s gotta light a fire under a Denny Hamlin, under a Kyle Busch,” expressed Petty.
Petty namedropped Denny Hamlin, which understandably angered the No. 11 JGR driver. He took to Twitter in retaliation:
Denny Hamlin signed with JGR in his second season in the Cup series in 2006 and has been with the team since then. Hamlin, in his 17th season, is one of the top contenders for the title going into 2021. He finished fifth at Daytona 500 and third, a week later, in the road course race. He currently sits at the top of the points standings with 104 points. Joey Logano is a distant second with 92 points. Hamlin is yet to win a Cup Series title.
During a press conference, Hamlin shed light on what he made of Kyle Petty's comments. He was surprised that the comment had come from an analyst, of all people.
"I can understand it coming from fans because they’re not prefaced to information that analysts or media are. So my thing was just like, have you not seen one article in the last — have you watched one race in the last two years? Have you seen any articles about re-signing? Like, I don’t know. It just dumbfounds me, but it’s also not surprising."
“I’m not sure who I can equate it to in another sports world, but essentially someone else that’s at the top of their game, and [analysts are] like, ‘Oh, this guy scored 30 off the bench, he’s coming for your starting position.’ OK…,” expressed a not-so-happy Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin and Petty don't maintain a great relationship. In 2007, Hamlin rear-ended Petty's car at Dover. The two have been involved in altercations ever since.
Kyle Petty currently runs the pre and post-race coverage of the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series for NBC Sports. He also regularly contributes to NBCSN's daily motorsports show, NASCAR America.
You might also like: NASCAR at Homestead starting lineup: Denny Hamlin wins pole
Brad Keselowski joins in the conversation
Denny Hamlin received support from Brad Keselowski - driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske - when he chimed in on the conversation. Keselowski could presumably relate to the scenario that Hamlin finds himself in and did not hold back from taking a dig.
Brad Keselowski is one of the highest-paid drivers in the series at the moment. He is serving a one-year contract extension with the team and is due to become a free agent next season.
Denny Hamlin's association with JGR
He has driven the No. 11 Toyota Camry to multiple wins over the years, along with three Daytona 500s. However, he has not yet laid hands on the coveted championship.
Denny Hamlin, earlier in the month, announced a contract extension with JGR and long-time sponsor FedEx, and in doing so, buried any speculation of a move elsewhere.
You might also like: Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing land new sponsor for Cup and Xfinity in 2021