Denny Hamlin Discusses His Key Adjustment To Cope With Next-Gen Cars

Back in the 2022 season, NASCAR made a big technological leap when they introduced the Next-Gen cars for the Cup Series endeavors. At that time, these racing machines, originally known as the Gen-7 cars, were stacked with cool designs and superior safety upgrades.

Fast forward to today, and JG Racing’s Denny Hamlin has recently revved his mouth with some ‘surprising’ words for these Next-Gen NASCAR machines.

Denny Hamlin opens up about difficulties with Next-Gen car

Joe Gibbs’ Denny Hamlin, who also co-owns 23XI Racing with NBA ‘Hall of Famer’ Michael Jordan, has recently come out to reveal the difficulties he endured when adjusting to the Next-Gen NASCAR cars, particularly his No. 11 Toyota Camry XSE.

In a recent interview with Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin admitted that he had to change his ‘footwork-dependent’ driving style to a more momentum-based’ one, when handling these Next-Gen cars, which have lower horsepower and more drag than their predecessors.

During the interview, Harvick asked him about the biggest thing he changed when driving the new cars. Hamlin, who is well known for his fancy footwork and throttle plays, put out a long sigh to this, and replied: “I have always been a person that uses both pedals at the same time. I have always been an active foot person. You have seen my traces. I have bounced the throttle all over the place. All over the place, right!”

“Just trying to smooth them out a little bit. These cars with so much drag, so little horsepower, getting off the brake pedal. That is something I always had as a comfortable pedal.”

“Always barely on that thing. Just trying to roll out as much speed as I can. Just really changing my style to be more momentum based”, he concluded.

Despite these words, the 42-year-old veteran has delivered impressive results with the Gen-7 car, grabbing away 6 wins, 25 finishes inside the top-5, and 37 ones inside the top-10 since 2022.

These words of ‘distaste for the Next-Gen cars’ from Hamlin come right after he was seen talking about his relationship with his crew chief at JGR, Chris Gabehart.

Denny Hamlin discusses his relationship with Chris Gabehart

In the same interview with Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin also opened up on his relationship with Chris Gabehart, when asked on about his dynamic partnership with the crew chief.

Talking about Gabehart, who has been leading him for over a decade, Hamlin was all praises for his crew chief, acknowledging that the man has ‘rejuvenated his career’ and ‘really pushed him to get better at all types of aspects of his race craft’. “He’s also a good supporter of mine”, he added.

The Florida native also revealed that he blindly trusts his crew chief, which is crystal clear in his confidence to following the crew chief’s race instructions without any question. “I think of him like the head coach. I’m the quarterback, he’s the head coach”, he said.

“And there’s this one thing that he loves saying. He’s like, ‘What I love about Denny is that if I tell him to go and run a lap in reverse in practice, he won’t ask why. He’ll just go do it because he knows I have a reason. I need him to do that’. And so that is my job, right? Is to run whatever play he tells me”, he concluded, revealing his full confidence towards his chief.

As for now, Denny Hamlin, led by Chris Gabehart, will now take out his ‘Next-Gen’ Camry XSE on 31st March, when JG Racing travels to Richmond for the 2024 Toyota Owners 400 race.

Can Hamlin pull of a victory with his ‘Next-Gen’ car at Richmond? Does he really have that much confidence in Gabehart as he claims? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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