Denny Hamlin is no stranger to crazy ideas when it comes to improving NASCAR. The 42-year-old Cup Series veteran, who co-owns 23XI Racing with NBA legend Michael Jordan, might actually be onto something with his latest proposal, which is inspired by college basketball's March Madness tournament, a.k.a. everyone's favorite win-or-go-home high-stakes competition.
Hamlin has been behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing for nearly 20 years and is now pitching the idea that NASCAR should have a midseason single-elimination racing tournament for its drivers. Could this be NASCAR Summer Madness? Hamlin pitched the idea during an episode of his podcast Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin, and it sure seemed that he was super pumped about the idea and more than determined to make it a reality. He went into detail about how NASCAR should be killing the ratings during the summer months.
"I think during the summer months, we should be kicking ass in the ratings," Hamlin said. "We are going to have a bracket challenge. ... You have 10 weeks to get yourself in the top 32 in points. ... Five weeks in a row where you have a head-to-head competition, and you're seeded based on where you are in points at week 10."
Hamlin elaborated on his idea with a few more specifics.
"So the No. 1 seed is whoever is first in points, and they would be going up against the 32nd place guy in points this week, and so on," Hamlin said. "Then you're going to have head-to-heads, once again, 16 down to eight, down to four, down to two. I can tell you as the drivers are concerned, we would be wildly competitive for this."
"Thirty-two drivers. Five-week midsummer tournament. $3 million to win. How many upsets would we have in Week 1 alone?"
Then, Hamlin brought up something that any sports initiative or tournament must do to be successful: entice the gamblers of the world. Plus, there can't be a single-elimination tournament without a bracket challenge. Clearly, Hamlin's idea for a NASCAR Madness wasn't just developed out of the blue. He really seems to be covering all the bases with this one.
"NASCAR offers $50 million to anyone with a perfect bracket — casual fans would be all over that," Hamlin said. "Sports bettors are bored in the summer with only MLB to bet on. It would create so much chatter and content."
On top of appealing to all the sports bettors and bracketologists out there, Hamlin's tournament idea could also be a great opportunity to inject extra excitement into the summer races. All in all, this may be the perfect proposal to give NASCAR the ratings boost that it so desperately needs.
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