AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 04: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 04, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona.
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin Says Toyota's Playoff Woes Were Just Coincidence

Denny Hamlin and his fellow Toyota drivers had some bad luck during the final 10 races of the 2023 season, and he put it all into perspective on a new episode of Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin.

The playoffs saw a handful of mechanical issues for many of the Toyota drivers. From Hamlin's broken steering to Martin Truex Jr's blown engine, they faced plenty of issues, and ultimately Hamlin and Truex didn't reach the Championship Four at Phoenix.

Their teammate Christopher Bell did, but another major mechanical issue ended his shot at the 2023 Championship quickly, as he blew a brake rotor in the race at Phoenix.

Hamlin addressed why he thinks the issues were just a coincidence, rather than a much bigger problem, on his podcast.

" I think it was more of a coincidence than anything," Hamlin said of Toyota's mechanical problems down the stretch. "The two things don't even remotely relate, with my steering issue and then (Truex's engine and Bell's brake rotor). It's a coincidence still. Because they're all different. But it's certainly played a role, in the last three races. So, I think that it's certainly not ideal. I don't know personally whether that was a setup issue with the No. 20, or a driver, too much brake issue. I don't know. But if it blows a rotor out, then it's too hot. It got too hot somehow, someway."

That's when Hamlin gave a few theories as to why the blown brake rotor ended Bell's day.

"Usually, it's the front of the car is taped off too much. So, they're not having enough air cooling it. But I heard them mention that the No. 20 was wide open on that," Hamlin said. "I think even TV mentioned that the openings were wide open on the No. 20 car. So, then it could be, what would be the next thing is that, a lot of right front brake bias, or something. Who knows. There could be a lot of different factors in it. It could be set up, it could be brake package. A lot of things. Either way, blown rotors come from too much heat, so there's not too much hidden there."

Coincidence or not, Toyota's mechanical failures during the playoff chase kept the manufacturer from claiming its fourth Cup championship and first since Kyle Busch took the manufacturer to the championship in 2019. Better luck next year.

More: Hamlin, Truex Face Playoff Elimination After Homestead Trouble