Denny Hamlin said Friday that he envisions himself being involved in NASCAR when his driving career is over. And that he’s got nothing to announce about any future plans.
Hamlin was asked during a news conference about rumors that he was looking to invest in Richard Petty Motorsports or actively looking to find investors for the team. RPM fields the No. 43 car for Bubba Wallace and has been mired as a lower-middle class team in the Cup Series in recent years though Wallace’s recent mainstream name recognition has helped attract sponsors.
The team has signed three sponsorship deals with companies new to team sponsorship since Wallace, the lone Black driver racing full-time, spoke out in favor of NASCAR’s Confederate flag ban in June.
“I don’t have anything to announce or to speak about when it comes to it,” Hamlin said. “I think that I’m always looking towards what I’m going to do after my driving career is over. I’ve got some great partners that support me and my decisions in what I will do for years to come. So, I don’t know. I wish I had something to announce, but I really don’t. There’s a lot of things up in the air that are still getting worked on, but I just got – I’ve got to win this weekend and next weekend, and that’s where I’ve got to focus, but certainly I believe that, no matter what, my career will be with Joe Gibbs Racing and FedEx as long as I want to drive.”
Hamlin, 39, has won six races so far in 2020 and has driven for Joe Gibbs Racing throughout his entire Cup Series career. And NASCAR’s team rules prohibit him from driving for JGR while also owning a stake in another team. If Hamlin wanted to own a team while he was still driving, he’d have to go the Tony Stewart route and drive for his own team. That sure seems unlikely given the last line of his answer.
Competitively, Hamlin would have no reason to leave JGR. The team has three drivers in the top seven of the points standings and those three drivers — Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — were 75 percent of the final four at Homestead in 2019. JGR is the organization to beat in the Cup Series.
But you also couldn’t blame Hamlin for looking toward the future. He’s closer to the end of his Cup Series career than he is to the beginning. And NASCAR is introducing a new car in 2022 that it says will help lower ownership costs in the future. Teams have been facing razor-thin profit margins as NASCAR’s popularity has decreased over the past 15 years and costs to operate teams have done the opposite.
“When I look at my career in racing, I’ve been around for 15 years in the Cup Series. I always think about what I want to do afterwards,” Hamlin said. “I don’t know that ownership will be it. I don’t know what my role will be, but I know that it will probably be in NASCAR in some kind of way, shape or form. I’m always looking at avenues that would allow me to stay in the sport beyond driving. Certainly, it’s a sport that I believe in. Certainly, the financial model hopefully will get better in the next few years for the team owners, regardless if I’m in it or not. But I don’t know. My focus has got to be on driving and winning a championship for Toyota and FedEx right now. If there’s ever opportunities to prepare myself for the future, then I look to capitalize on those.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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