NASHVILLE – It was a packed year for Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, who fielded his own team 23XI Racing team, and nearly claimed his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Hamlin won a pair of races and posted career-best marks in top-five (19) and top-10 (25) finishes and took eventual NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson to the wire in challenging for the regular season championship. He won two Playoff races – at Darlington and Las Vegas – and came a pit stop away from nearly pulling off his first NASCAR Cup Series title.
His 23XI Racing team officially expanded by a car and will add veteran, former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch to the fold for 2022. Bubba Wallace scored a victory for the organization in its first season in 2021.
On paper it’s a challenging balance, but Hamlin and his ownership partner NBA legend Michael Jordan, certainly delivered on the team side and the 41-year-old Hamlin certainly delivered on the competition side.
“My passion for work is still really, really high and I knew that I wanted to run a business,” said Hamlin. “I didn’t know what that business would be, it turns out it’s team ownership. And hopefully I make the right decisions in the long term to make that all work out.
“I had to compartmentalize my time. I had to make sure that I designated certain days for certain aspects of my life.
“… I’m planned, I’m programmed, that’s the way I work,” Hamlin added, insisting about his time behind the wheel, “I feel as good as I’ve ever felt about the driving aspect of my career.
“If you had asked me three years ago, I’d have been like, ‘ugh, how much longer do I want to do this?’ And now I have no horizon, I don’t know. As long as I stay competitive like I’ve been doing, I don’t know. I’ll race until I’m Mark Martin, I guess.”