Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson talk in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 15, 2010
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Denny Hamlin on Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR Return: "I Hate That He's Coming Back"

Denny Hamlin's new podcast hasn't even aired yet, and it's already stirring up controversy.

In a clip teasing the first episode of Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin, which will officially air February 6 on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Media channel, Hamlin got brutally honest about Jimmie Johnson's return to the NASCAR Cup Series after a three-year hiatus. Simply put? Denny isn't a fan of the seven-time champ coming out of retirement.

"I hate it. I hate that he's coming back," Hamlin said. "Just because as the guy that, you know, I just put on this pedestal of, like, unbeatable. Just super talented, like he was the guy."

"And I always said, I hate I raced in the Jimmie Johnson era, like damn it, I was so unfortunate. How many championships would I have if I didn't have to race against him? I guess I don't know what the motivation is for him, because he's got such a strong legacy and a strong resume. I hate tainting what I'm going to think about him if he comes in and struggles, which is the most likely scenario."

Right after the news broke in November 2022 that Johnson had purchased an ownership stake in Petty GMS Motorsports, which has since rebranded as Legacy Motor Club, the 47-year-old future NASCAR Hall of Famer announced that he'd return to race in five Cup Series races in 2023 behind the wheel of the No. 84 Chevy. Now, Hamlin has never been one to balk at the opportunity to stir the pot, so who knows if he actually really feels that strongly about Jimmie's return? He does, after all, have a new podcast to promote, and we all know that controversy sells, particularly when it revolves around another driver's performance.

But, if Denny's truly worried about Johnson tarnishing his legacy, here's the thing: he won't. The guy could wreck out of every race he runs in this year, and he'll still go down as the GOAT of NASCAR's modern era with seven titles and 83 wins to his name. Sure, it's never a great look when a once-dominant athlete comes out of retirement only to flounder amongst the young guns of their respective sport. It's been three years since Johnson has run a full Cup season and a lot as changed since then (namely, the Next Gen Car). So, yeah, he probably won't be finishing near the top of the pack this year, but he's also only running in five races. Five races against his nearly 20-years worth of domination? That won't even leave a scratch.

MORE: Denny Hamlin Made NASCAR History at the 2006 Busch Clash