Talladega Takeaways: Winning as a car owner new emotion for Denny Hamlin


TALLADEGA, Ala. — Ten months ago, Denny Hamlin stood in his team’s new race shop as 23XI Racing’s first car arrived.

Among the key issues to be dealt with that day: Getting the shop’s paint booth serviced and certified, and determining how many parts and pieces needed to be order for the team’s maiden season.

So, when the car came to the shop that day, there was little time to contemplate the significance of the moment before it was back to the many details that needed to be addressed.

When Wallace won Monday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway for his first victory and the first for the team, Hamlin felt a new emotion: Winning as a team owner.

“It’s going to take a minute,” Hamlin said of how he felt as he walked under an umbrella after NASCAR called Monday’s race because of rain. “It’s so much to process at this point. I’m not sure. This is going to be days’ worth of thoughts that will go through my head.”

It has been a whirlwind for Hamlin since he and Michael Jordan announced on Sept. 21, 2021 that they were forming a Cup team with Wallace as the driver.

“I knew it was going to be a process, but I maybe underestimated the process in which it takes to ultimately be a top-tier team and the time it takes to get all the (personnel) that you need,” Hamlin said Sunday morning at Talladega Superspeedway.

That process includes expanding 23XI Racing to a second car for the 2022 season. That meant hiring another driver (Kurt Busch), more personnel and acquiring a charter while also putting in plans to build a shop that will allow the organization to expand to four cars someday.

“It’s such a tough balance of trying to figure out how you can be fast and competitive and still run a legitimate business,” Hamlin last weekend. “That’s the tough part.”

The best parts, though, come with winning.

That’s what Jordan sought when he partnered with Hamlin.

“My biggest conversation to Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there just to go … around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th,’” Jordan told NBC Sports and Fox Sports in an exclusive interview in September 2020.

“I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.”

Monday, Jordan got to celebrate his first win as a car owner.

“He’s as excited as I am,” Hamlin said of Jordan. “Even though I probably do most of the work on the ownership side, he’s emotionally invested in this team as much as I am.

“This would not be possible without him. This would not be possible without the support of Toyota. There’s so many different people that said ‘Okay, you want to do this? All right, we’re going to stand behind you.’

That to me is what makes it so gratifying, is that when you have crazy dreams and you want to build something, that you have people that believe in your vision.”

Much work remains.

“We’re still again in the building stage,” Hamlin said after watching Wallace celebrate the win. “We’re still in the growing stages of our team.

“This is just a huge morale boost, a huge confidence boost for Bubba. There’s a lot of positives that will come out of this that will linger for a very, very long time.”


There will be those who say that a NASCAR playoff race should never end early.

Two of the drivers who entered Talladega below the cutline – Alex Bowman and William Byron – each were asked about the prospect of a playoff race not going the full distance ahead of the event.

They weren’t bothered by the notion.

“I think it’s the same as every week,” Bowman said. “Any week of the year it can be expected by stuff like this (rain in the forecast). That’s just what we’re faced with (Sunday).

“I don’t think it’s any different than a regular season race being impacted by it. It would be tough to see the championship race impacted like that. That’s a hard position. Obviously, we can’t race in the rain. Just part of it.”

Last year, the Texas Cup playoff race was started on a Sunday and finished on a Wednesday because of persistent rain.

“Nobody wants to be here until Wednesday or Thursday like we were at Texas last year,” Bowman said.At some point, there’s only so much you can do with a weather situation that you’re given.”

Said Byron of his thoughts about a playoff race ending early: “I don’t really worry about it too much. You’re always kind of a ticking time bomb at Talladega, so I feel like you just race every lap as hard as you can.”

Byron finished 36th at Talladega and Bowman was 38th. They both head to Sunday’s Cup playoff cutoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC) outside the cutline.

Byron is 44 points from the cutline. Bowman is 52 points from the cutline. Both, essentially, are in a must-win situation to advance to the next round.


Talladega became the first NASCAR track to have three first-time national series winners in the same weekend.

There had been three different first-time winners on the same weekend previously, but those were split among two tracks. Never had it happened at the same track until this past weekend.

Tate Fogleman scored his first career win in Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series race Saturday. Bubba Wallace completed the sweep of new winners with his first career Cup victory Monday.

The last time there were three different first-time series winners on the same weekend (but at different tracks) was August 2016. Michael McDowell won the Xfinity race at Road America. Brett Moffitt won the Truck race at Michigan. Kyle Larson won the Cup race at Michigan.

NASCAR Cup Series results: Ryan Blaney wins at Charlotte

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney outran William Byron over the final miles and through several restarts to win Monday’s 600-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney thus ended a 59-race winless streak and qualified for the Cup playoffs.

Following in the top five were Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

Charlotte Cup results

Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — It was the longest wait for the longest race, and it ended on a very long day. And it marked the end of a long winless streak.

Ryan Blaney sprinted away from William Byron in the closing laps of Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ended a 59-race winless streak.

Byron finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

MORE: Charlotte Cup results

Blaney pushed through several late-race restarts and held on to finally write finish to a frustrating losing string. The win marked the first time long-time team owner Roger Penske has won both the Indy 500 and Coke 600 in the same year.

“You start to get to feel like you can’t win any more when you don’t win for a while,” an emotional Blaney told Fox Sports after the race.

Following the lead of his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, who won Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and went into the stands to celebrate with fans, Blaney ran into the CMS frontstretch grandstands after grabbing the checkered flag.

Contender Kyle Larson lost control of his car on a restart with 26 laps to go, starting a crash that also involved Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell.

He had maneuvered his way through a web of crashes and outran Byron, whose team kept him in or near the front with a string of fast pit stops.

The race was postponed by rain Sunday and was delayed by showers Monday. Rain had soaked the track most of the weekend, postponing the Cup and Xfinity Series races and cancelling Saturday night’s Cup practice and qualifying. Monday’s forecast was better, but the weather refused to cooperate. Rain interrupted the Xfinity race, which started at 11 a.m., and another shower stopped the Cup race during the second stage.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, which advertises itself as “America’s Home for Racing,” had become America’s home for raining.

Blaney, 29, scored the eighth win of his career. He last won at Daytona International Speedway in August 2021 and had posted four runnerup finishes during that span.

“I tried not to think about that very much,” Blaney said of the losing streak. “It’s hard to win these races. Sometimes you get in these streaks where things don’t go right. It can definitely be frustrating. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you don’t win. You got to think to yourself can I still do it. Can i compete at a winning level?”

A mid-race collision between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin left their cars seriously damaged and their feelings hurt. They were racing in close quarters on lap 186 when extended contact between the two cars sent Hamlin hard into the wall, resulting in major front-end damage. Elliott’s car sustained serious rear damage.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and that he should be suspended for the next race for what Hamlin called “a right rear hook.” Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

A few laps earlier, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed.

The third-stage win went to Blaney. Following were Reddick, Truex, Byron and Ty Gibbs.

Chris Buescher won the second stage, leading Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Joey Logano and Gibbs.

Byron won the first stage, leading a three-way battle with Christopher Bell and Blaney on the 100th lap. Bell was second, Blaney third, Reddick fourth and Truex Jr. fifth.

A crash involving Bubba Wallace and Aric Almirola resulted in the drivers having a tense red-flag discussion. Almirola shoved Wallace before the altercation was broken up.

Stage 1 winner: William Byron

Stage 2 winner: Chris Buescher

Stage 3 winner: Ryan Blaney

Who had a good race: Ryan Blaney had the day’s fastest car and held off a following herd over the final miles. … William Byron was strong throughout the race but couldn’t challenge Blaney at the end. … The fourth-place finish by Bubba Wallace and the fifth-place run by Tyler Reddick marked the first time 23XI Racing has put two cars in the top five in a points race.

Who had a bad race: Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson had a tough day in his third race of the year. He lost control of his car in Turn 2 74 laps into the race and slapped the outside wall. He lost a lap in the pits and ultimately finished last. … Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had top-10 cars but both left the race after a controversial collision near the halfway point.

Next: The series moves on to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois for a June 4 race at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott involved in big crash at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were involved in a big crash midway through Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and each blamed the other.

Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall near the start-finish line, and his car made contact with Hamlin’s Toyota, sending Hamlin slamming into the wall. The front end of Hamlin’s car was smashed. Elliott’s Chevrolet also was damaged.

Both drivers parked for the evening, and neither was happy.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and said he should be suspended from next week’s race.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Elliott had a different view.

“The 11 (Hamlin) put me in the fence, and once you take the right sides off these things it’s kind of over,” he said. “Once you hit the wall in these things, you can’t drive them any more.”

Elliott denied intentionally hitting Hamlin, saying the crash was “unfortunate circumstances.”

Brad Keselowski hit the rear of Elliott’s car after the initial contact between Hamlin and Elliott.

After the crash, Hamlin tweeted data in support of his contention that Elliott drove into him.




More rain postpones conclusion of Charlotte Xfinity race


CONCORD, N.C. — Despite an improving forecast, rain continued to plague NASCAR and its drivers Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The twice-rescheduled Xfinity Series race was stopped twice because of weather Monday after finally getting the green flag, and the conclusion of the 300-mile race was postponed until after the completion of Monday’s rescheduled 600-mile Cup Series race.

Forty-eight of the race’s scheduled 200 laps were completed before weather and the impending scheduled start of the Cup race intervened.

When (or if) the race resumes Monday night, it will be broadcast by FS2, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

After 48 laps, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier are in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first stage.