It's getting down to crunch time in the NASCAR 2023 regular season, and contract renewals for next season for drivers are starting to come into view.
One driver who looks to be set for a renewal is Denny Hamlin, along with his Joe Gibbs Racing team. Hamlin, who has raced his entire NASCAR Cup Series career for Joe Gibbs, which has resulted in 50 career victories, has made it clear that he intends to race for Gibbs until he retires.
Yet Dale Earnhardt Jr. has some questions about why Hamlin's long-rumored new deal hasn't been signed yet.
Earnhardt raised the topic on a new episode of the "Dale Jr. Download." Earnhardt Jr. compared the hold-up to what went down with Kyle Busch last season but doesn't see Hamlin ending up on a different team.
"This feels similar to Kyle Busch, and I'm not trying to insinuate, Denny's going to end up somewhere else, but why is this not done?" Earnhardt Jr. said. "Denny's worth it. It seems like this should be pretty simple, so what is the hold-up? I'm just curious as to what is the delay."
It's not like JGR is Hamlin's only option, as he has his own race team, 23XI Racing. Could he make that jump? Earnhardt Jr. sees that as a possibility if Hamlin and Joe Gibbs can't get the new deal done.
"The risk in, my opinion, kind of falls on Joe Gibbs and his team that this drags out any further," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Denny has options, his own race team. I don't know that he would really want to drive for himself right now, but at some point you have to think that is an option."
Dale Jr. then let co-host Mike Davis chime in with a possible theory as to what he thinks the hold-up on a new contract for Hamlin is.
Why hasn't Denny Hamlin signed his contract to return to Joe Gibbs racing next year? ?
— Dirty Mo Media (@DirtyMoMedia) August 16, 2023
"My theory is usually when these things are delayed, it's because of sponsorship," Davis said. "If that's the case, then that would've been in the same scenario that Kyle Busch was in, with the lack of funding, and that did not end well that had Busch ended up going to another race team."
Both Hamlin and Gibbs seem like they have things heading in the right direction for Hamlin to remain the driver of the No. 11 Toyota.
We all know what happened last year with Busch, as M&M's left the sport completely, and that spelled the end for Busch's tenure at JGR.
Earnhardt Jr. is right in questioning why the deal isn't done. It's quite puzzling.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.