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Everything We Know (So Far) About Denny Hamlin’s 2024 Contract Negotiations

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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The 2023-’24 NASCAR Silly Season has been an interesting one for sure with a lot of surprising moves and not-so-surprising decisions not to retire. But as with Kyle Busch last year, here late in the game a lot of attention seems to be revolving around Denny Hamlin and his future in the JGR No. 11 car.

Denny Hamlin says that he wants to be back with Joe Gibbs. Joe Gibbs went as far as to say that he wants Denny Hamlin to retire with the organization. We know that Toyota certainly wants him back as they have invested a lot of time and energy into the driver as well as the team he co-owns with Michael Jordan, 23XI Racing. And yet, with all of that positivity around the situation, there’s still no deal done as of mid-August heading into 2024.

So, what’s the hold-up? Well, here’s everything we know (so far) about the current situation regarding Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 JGR team.

Hamlin’s Comments

Around the 2:41 timestamp in this interview provided to us by our friends at Frontstretch Media, Denny Hamlin seemed rather optimistic, stating that he, JGR, and Toyota are in “a pretty good spot”, alluding to a deal being done is imminent.

This interview was taken just over a month ago in mid-July. Now, though, as we surpass mid-August, we’re starting to enter crunch time for these silly season deals, especially in the Cup Series, to be finalized. With Martin Truex Jr. resigning a 1-year extension, it put the JGR spotlight solely on Hamlin and his 2024 contract.

About a month later, just before the race at the Indy road course, Frontstretch caught up with Hamlin again to talk about his contract negotiations. In the interview below, there is a noticeable tone shift and Hamlin reveals a little more about what might be snagging his path forward.

Here, he alludes to there being more pieces to the puzzle rather than just being a driver/owner contract negotiation. First and foremost, there are the sponsors who drive the sport. Like it or not, it’s the sponsorship that largely ends up making a lot of the decisions at the end of the day.

Early in the season, there were some reports that FedEx might not be back with the No. 11 team. The shipping company being the primary sponsor for a bulk of the No. 11’s races, this, if true, would be a huge indicator of changes to Hamlin’s contract that he might not be comfortable with, being a veteran of the sport. His former teammate, Kyle Busch, found himself in a very similar situation the year before when the Mars Corporation decided to end its partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing.

If FedEx does leave the sport, that money is going to have to come from somewhere and even if JGR was able to find a replacement sponsor rather than just a deal where they piece together a bunch of different smaller sponsors to make up the 36 race schedule, would that sponsor be willing to bring in just as much, if not more, money than FedEx was? Probably not and if Denny is open and fine with that from the start, it’s likely that there wouldn’t be as big of a problem.

Like Busch, Denny also alludes in this interview that his investment in 23XI Racing is also holding them up as any deal Denny makes will affect his race team. It is important for Hamlin to make a deal that makes sense for both himself and 23XI. He also reveals in this interview that a deal between 23XI Racing and Toyota isn’t even finalized yet for the 2024 season. That could be slowing things down as well.

The most telling part of the interview is when Hamlin says that negotiations can only happen when every party is available to talk, indicating some barrier between himself and his people, JGR, and Toyota.

In a video clip of a press conference held at Walkins Glen International, provided by FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Hamlin reiterates many of the points that having 23XI as an asset has hindered the negotiation process between him, JGR, and Toyota. He also says that he is happy at JGR and JGR is happy with him but there are more things at play.

Something very similar was happening a year ago with Kyle Busch as his involvement with KBM was a hindrance in him hammering out a deal with any manufacturer and/or race team. Denny Hamlin recognizes the similarities in the clip below, even stating that he is saying some of the same things this year that Kyle Busch said last year and the same goes for Joe Gibbs and his organization.

Gibb’s Comments

Joe Gibbs’ comments have all been along the same lines. Following Hamlin’s win at Pocono (his 50th career win) Gibbs spoke in a press conference about the Hamlin contract situation. The video is provided by none other than Kenny Wallace. At the beginning of the video, just as the title suggests, Joe Gibbs jokingly said that he would like to sign Denny for another 10 years. He goes on to say that Hamlin has been a great ambassador for the organization as well as Toyota and he seems to be very optimistic about Denny’s future with the company.

The Coach said some very similar things regarding Kyle Busch last year but, Kyle being Kyle, that relationship quickly soured. Certainly not helping the matter, Gibbs already had Kyle’s replacement waiting in the wings in the form of his grandson, Ty.

Around The Garage

Denny Hamlin’s boss at Dirty Mo Media, Dale Earnhardt Jr., also had a segment of his show, The Dale Jr. Download dedicated to speculating just what was happening with the Denny Hamlin and JGR/Toyota contract negotiations. Throughout the segment, Dale references just how similar the situation feels to KFB’s situation with the company the year prior.

He brings up an interesting point that Denny has the option to run for his own team. But even in doing that, there would be a lot of things that would have to be moved around and changed. For example, they’d need a third charter and in the current NASCAR economy, that’s an astronomical ask. So, maybe going to race for his own team would be a harder mountain to move. But is there a point where it would become necessary to make that change?

Dale Jr. also believes that Denny, at some point, will drive for himself. However, when his co-host, Mike, asked if his father, Dale Earnhardt would have ever left RCR to drive a season or two for DEI, Jr. said “probably not”.

What we know so far about the 2024 Denny Hamlin contract negotiations is limited. We know that there have been some rumblings about issues with sponsorship. We know that both Denny and Joe Gibbs want Hamlin back with the organization. The only known obstacle that Hamlin has been upfront with is his own team of 23XI Racing. Certainly, more will come out in the coming weeks about these negotiations. You’re going to want to make sure that you’re right here at the Daily Downforce when the news finally does drop and things become solidified.

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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