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Some NASCAR drivers stay away from controversy, but others cannot escape it whether intentional or not. Which NASCAR drivers are the MOST controversial heading into the 2024 season? This is our top 5.

You Need to Know:

  • Being controversial does not mean a driver is bad or overrated. Mirriam-Webster defines controversy as, “discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views”. A driver being controversial is one who incites debate amongst the fanbase for a variety of reasons. From how they conduct themselves on the track to the things they say off the track.
  • On this list, we take a look at all sides of controversial drivers. Why do some fans love them, and why do others not? Can these drivers shed their “Controversial” label in 2024?
  • Fans tend to be split on all of these drivers. Some love them, and others love to dislike them.

5. Hailie Deegan

On one hand, Hailie Deegan has a massive following with 3 Craftsman Truck Series “Most Popular Driver” Awards and 1.5 million followers on Instagram. She’s a driver who understands how to use social media, and she has built a big brand. She is also the only full-time female racer currently in NASCAR’s top three series, and it would be very historic to see a female driver surpass those who came before.

However, Deegan has not performed well since she jumped up to the Truck Series in 2021. She has never won a race or even made the Playoffs while driving in top equipment. Regardless of her performance, she got promoted to the Xfinity Series with AM Racing. Some fans do not feel Deegan has performed well enough to earn her fame or driving opportunities.

Deegan will drive for AM Racing in 2024, and it is a big opportunity for her to prove herself. If she can race well, that major following she has will sell her to bigger teams. However, she has yet to prove she can win or finish consistently well in top equipment in a third-tier NASCAR series.

4. Austin Dillon

Austin Dillon has a very outgoing personality with the cowboy hat and, at one point, a reality TV show. He also drives one of the most iconic numbers, 3, for one of the sport’s most iconic teams, RCR. Some people like the outgoing, Cowboy-type personality that Austin Dillon brings to his legendary race team.

However, a big reason he got into the 3-car at RCR is because Richard Childress is his grandfather. His driving career has had its moments, but only 4 wins in 10 seasons is nowhere near star status. This causes some people to view him as a “Silver spoon” kid who only got where he is because of family connections.

Dillon is coming off of his worst Cup Series season yet in 2023, so, he has a chip on his shoulder for 2024. He may never fully escape the labels given to him, but finding his way back to victory lane is a good start. The debate will forever rage on about Austin Dillon.

3. Ross Chastain

Ross Chastain is a humble watermelon farmer who worked his way up the hard way. However, don’t mistake that humility for weakness. He is an absolute bulldog on the race track who will do whatever it takes to win. Some fans love that aggressive style and his humble beginnings that many fans can relate to.

However, he has been too aggressive on the race track at times. This put him at odds with drivers, owners, and their fanbases. Some fans do not like it when their favorite driver is on the wrong end of Ross Chastain’s over-aggressive bump and runs.

Chastain worked hard to clean up that act throughout the final two-thirds of 2023. It led to wins at Nashville and the season finale at Phoenix. However, the way he raced Ryan Blaney at Phoenix shows that the aggression is not quite gone for good. Rather, it seems to be more calculated than in the past.

2. Carson Hocevar

Carson Hocevar burst onto the scene in the Truck Series and Cup Series in 2023. He has a lot of raw talent, and fans enjoyed seeing him flash that potential. He also streams on Twitch and is active on social media, which makes him fun for fans to follow.

However, his talent is still very raw, and he has shown some immaturity at times. He wrecked Corey Heim at Phoenix to take Heim out of Championship contention, and he wrecked Nick Sanchez for the win at Texas. The Phoenix move in particular drew the ire of many in the industry.

In 2024, Hocevar has a chance to prove he can race cleanly. He is a very raw, but talented prospect who will show what he is really all about. If he can race clean with fewer silly run-ins with other drivers, those who don’t like Hocevar may turn.

1. Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin is blunt and outspoken off the track and incredibly aggressive on the race track. Some fans like to see a driver willing to be outspoken and say what’s on their mind despite their opinion being unpopular. Some fans also like the aggression that Hamlin shows on the track.

However, by nature, not everyone agrees with Hamlin’s bold statements. Fans also accuse Hamlin of saying drivers should do one thing, then doing the exact opposite himself on the race track. Hamlin has also had run-ins with many of the sport’s biggest stars, most notably Chase Elliott in 2017.

It’s possible no one likes being controversial as much as Denny Hamlin does. He’s embraced his new “Villain” role that some fans have given to him. It doesn’t seem the perception surrounding Hamlin will change anytime soon.

Who do you feel are the most controversial drivers in NASCAR today? Is there someone we left off?