The world of NASCAR is built on drama and controversy, so when two of its biggest personalities tangle, everyone pulls up a seat to watch the fireworks.
Denny Hamlin has fired some shots at NASCAR Hall of Famer and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon over his recent comments about how he thinks Hamlin's method in building his brand is too controversial and doesn't want the drivers at Hendrick Motorsports to follow Hamlin's example.
Gordon told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio how he thinks it works for Hamlin, but he doesn't think it works for everyone.
?? ?I wouldn?t want that to be one of our drivers. It?s too controversial. To me, it?s a distraction.?
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) October 4, 2023
"Denny is trying to do things to stir up conversation," Gordon said. "To get people at least having an opinion. Whether it's a positive or negative one, you have an opinion. The fact he's embracing that, I will give him kudos all day long. Go for it. I wouldn't want that to be one of our drivers. It's too controversial. To me, it's a distraction. I want our drivers to go and build a fanbase by winning races and by being themselves. But, I think Denny is being himself to a certain degree but it's kind of an alter-ego as well."
Following Gordon's comments, Hamlin fired back on his podcast Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin.
He all but called out Gordon for wanting to stunt NASCAR growth.
"Has he been watching a race in the last twelve weeks? I don't get it and I'm confused," Hamlin said. "I go in Monday and I'm a professional because that's what professionals do. They go into a meeting, and they act professional. I think he's been to one too many Burning Mans."
Hamlin continued criticizing Gordon and was thankful that he doesn't drive for the NASCAR legend.
"He's going against the logic that he said twelve months ago. He's basically saying that, 'I want them to be tidy, not controversial.' I couldn't disagree more," Hamlin said. "I'm glad I drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm glad I run my team the way I run my team because I will never run my team saying things like that. That's his opinion. He's allowed to have that opinion. But certainly, I think that that's the absolute wrong way to go if you want star power in this sport."
When Gordon raced, he was booed as much, or more than, Hamlin has ever been despite maintaining a squeaky-clean public image that avoided controversy at every turn. He got booed simply because he won too much. Hamlin, on the other hand, might not enjoy the success Gordon attained in his career but he clearly thrives on being most NASCAR fans' biggest villain, seemingly gaining confidence with every boo hurled his way. Which way is the best way? As Hamlin and Gordon are showing, ultimately it doesn't matter...there's more than one way into Victory Lane and out of fans' favor.
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