This past weekend at Pocono Kyle Larson fans and Denny Hamlin haters are all up in arms because of Hamlin's aggressive driving style that ultimately led him to a race win. Fans are calling out Hamlin's unwillingness to take responsibility for his aggressive driving style, and Hamlin stands firm against the mob that stands before him.
I'm here today to defend Denny Hamlin and how aggressive he has been. Put yourself in his shoes for just this one race. There was a lot at stake. Toyota's 600th NASCAR win. Hamlin's 7th win at Pocono, making him the winningest driver in the series at that track. Lastly, that is Hamlin's 50th win in the series. With that much on the line, can you blame Hamlin for doing what he had to do to win that race?
Let's look at the bigger picture here. In his podcast, Actions Detrimental, on Monday, Hamlin made a good point. For most of his career, he has been a relatively clean driver, and look where it has gotten him. He's in the conversation for one of the best drivers in the sport never to win a championship. He's now at the point where he feels he has to be aggressive, or at least change something up, to get him that Championship he longs for.
Before Pocono, Hamlin had one win at Kansas Speedway in the AdventHealth 400 this season, securing his spot in the playoffs. Since May 7th, he's been able to toy around with different driving styles that he can utilize in the playoffs, which start in a little over a month from now. This race proved to us that Denny is willing to do what it takes to win a race. If he's willing to pull a stunt like he did this past weekend, we should expect him to take more risks and perform more ballsy moves that will advance him in the playoffs.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with what Denny did. I think NASCAR needs more aggressive drivers willing to do what it takes to win in the race's final laps to win. Isn't that the whole point of racing? To win? Who cares if there's a little bit of rubbin' and bumpin'? That's what makes this sport fun and what keeps people wanting more.
Where I won't defend Hamlin is his ability to dish it out but his inability to take the backlash from his actions. If you're going to be aggressive, own it. If you're going to make bold statements and call others out, you have to be willing and able to accept that people will make bold statements about you and call out your crap. You are not entitled to be safeguarded by statements and comments made about and to you.
I do believe Hamlin has a good shot at the Championship this year because, including Denny, three JGR drivers are in the top four of the season point standings. This, at the very least, proves that they're consistent, and in playoffs, you have to have some level of consistency to win the Championship. Truex and Hamlin are on the back nine of their careers, so I'd imagine JGR would be more than willing to invest most of their assets on getting each of them another Championship.