Following his disappointing exit in the Round of 8, Denny Hamlin was subject to scrutiny once again because he still has not won a Cup Series Championship. Eddie Gossage, the former track president of Texas Motor Speedway, had some pretty scathing comments saying that Hamlin lacks focus and intelligence. He claimed to have been told this by a crew chief and two crew members, so, is there an objective truth to these comments?
What those who told Gossage were likely referring to with this were how many different things Denny Hamlin is involved in. He is a busy guy as most race car drivers are. However, his professional life is more complicated than many others are.
Hamlin co-owns a race team, 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan. Hamlin also has a podcast, Actions Detrimental, that starts or contributes to many NASCAR conversations. He also has two kids, so, he has to balance time with family as many race car drivers do.
He’s involved in a lot of different things. Now, there is obviously nothing wrong with a driver spending his time away from the race team he drives for doing things that Denny Hamlin is doing. Some drivers elect to spend their free time away from the race track, but Hamlin likes to be involved in many things at the race track.
Again, since Hamlin started 23XI Racing in 2021, he has made a Championship 4 in 2021, and he is a Hail Melon and a power steering failure away from likely making two more. He’s still found ways to win races, so, is it really fair to say he is not focused enough on his driving team? On the outside looking in, however, he does have his hand in many places.
Now, this probably was not Eddie Gossage saying that Denny Hamlin has a low IQ. Just listen to an episode of Actions Detrimental, and you will see that Hamlin is not a dumb human being. What likely is being questioned here is Hamlin’s emotional intelligence and handling of the conflict between himself and drivers.
Hamlin is known for being intentionally controversial, and he has put himself in not great situations before. The shining example of this would be Phoenix earlier this year when he decided to exact his revenge on Ross Chastain. This happened as both drivers were fighting well in the top 10, but they fell back because of this late in an early season race. A questionable retaliation tactic.
Hamlin was later penalized for admitting it on Actions Detrimental. Hamlin also put himself on the wrong side of the fanbase after wrecking Chase Elliott at Martinsville in 2017. Elliott retaliated two races alter at Phoenix, and that cost Hamlin a Championship 4 spot.
Well, Hamlin has been in some tough situations that have cost him Championship opportunities, and some of it has been because of his own actions. Of course, as was evidenced by the last couple of years, not all of it has been because of his bad decisions. Some of it has been because of things that happened out of his control as a driver. However, he has made some questionable decisions.
Eddie Gossage is an interesting person in the racing industry. He is a big personality, and he truly was a throwback type of track president. He was not afraid to push the envelope, and he has contacts in the racing industry.
He has been in the sport long enough that he knows people either currently in the garage or people who have been in that garage for a long time. He knows people. However, Gossage is also someone who has been a bit of a wild personality. This is a guy who gave Dale Earnhardt Jr. a horse as a retirement gift.
He is also not totally well-liked in the NASCAR fanbase for being the track president during the highly criticized reconfiguration of Texas Motor Speedway. Now, how much influence he really had over that may not be as big as some people claim. However, as a result of that and his antics, people tend to take his opinions with a grain of salt.
Regardless, he is someone with connections in the racing industry. He knows people, and those people likely know more than the general population knows.
Overall, it’s impossible to really tell whether or not these comments are accurate. There could be some truth to them, but, ultimately, we do not know.