Denny Hamlin Leaves ‘Dega With a Show of Bad Judgement

After running out of gas near the end of the race, Denny Hamlin finished 18th. In many ways, he is lucky that is as bad as it got after posting a racial slur meme aimed at Kyle Larson. Hamlin is lucky he hasn’t been suspended from NASCAR the way Larson was for his racial slur during a 2020 virtual racing event. Larson also lost his job at Ganassi Racing for that slur.

One could argue that Larson’s use of the “n” word was more egregious than what Hamlin posted but that seems to put us in a place of balancing one racial slur against another – which one is worse? Considering the rise in violence against Asian Americans in this country I could argue that what Hamlin posted is just as bad as what Larson said.

And for those of you who missed it, Denny Hamlin posted a tweet Monday that showed a brief clip from the show “Family Guy” that showed an Asian woman speaks in a stereotyped accent while using a turn signal when changing lanes. Hamlin superimposed “Kyle Larson” on that clip and then cut to footage of the crash Larson was involved in at the end of the race that caught up Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace. Of course, Hamlin is part owner of the 23 car driven by Wallace.

Hamlin later took the tweet down and posted “I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments. It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong. I apologize.

Ahem.

He only took it down AFTER reading some of the comments? Really? He had NO IDEA that posting a meme that makes fun of Asian women drivers, and Kyle Larson’s mom is an Asian American, would be offensive? Obviously he was trying to make fun of Kyle Larson and the fact that his heritage didn’t come to mind is, well, yeah, you need some sensitivity training dude.

And let’s forget the fact that Larson is Asian American, Hamlin is not part of the writing team on “Family Guy,” he doesn’t get to make “jokes” like that without consequence.

And before anyone gets their sensitivity undies in a bunch, look at it this way: if I posted that same meme and I had a client that was Asian American, he/she would have every right to be offended and fire my rear end. And make sure no other client hired me because of that.

And let’s move on to the fact that Denny Hamlin has caused accidents at Talladega, Hamlin is a notoriously difficult driver to pass when up front and a vicious blocker. So before you cast stones there, buddy…

And speaking of driver insensitivity, Kyle Busch insulted Alex Bowman in a way that didn’t involve a slur, just a swipe at Bowman’s ability as a driver. So there is proof that it can be done.

In the end, Hamlin is getting off light in my opinion. Kyle Larson will probably brush this off but has to be wondering what’s the difference between what he said and what Denny posted. And I can’t blame him. NASCAR is treading in muddy waters here. Do we really expect that they would suspend a star driver for this behavior? But now, perhaps unwittingly, NASCAR has set the bar for racial slur comparison and that’s not a good place to be in for drivers or for NASCAR. While NASCAR loves to live in the gray areas, this is one aspect where there should be no gray area.

Oh and yes, that was one heck of a Talladega race. Who would have thought Trackhouse Racing and Ross Chastain would have 2 wins already this season? More like this, please!

More of my articles can be found here!  Leave your comments below with your thoughts on Hamlin, Larson, or Talladega’s weekend.

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

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6 Thoughts to “Denny Hamlin Leaves ‘Dega With a Show of Bad Judgement”

  1. John

    The NASCAR rule follows with the main thoughts of our 2022 culture. I’m old: I think people need to develop a thicker skin, but I am no longer a demographic that the mainstream gives a d*** about. Denny violated the rule as did Larson , Haille Dedham and Kyle Busch. All received the same punishment except 1 and he was banished for a year. The punishment for 1 seems way more severe. Is it proportional to the crime? I am learning to keep my opinions to myself.

    1. The “thick skin” approach isn’t unwarranted and can still apply. Alex Bowman for example, has to have thick skin when admonished by Kyle Busch. Or when Denny calls another driver a “complete hack.” And today is not the same as it was in the 70s when I had a “Polish joke book” that was full of ethnic stereotyped jokes. In many ways, those days are gone and probably rightly so. Stereotyping hasn’t gone away, we are human after all. But would you want someone to stereotype you as a redneck, southern, bad accented, dumb, illiterate beer guzzlin’ chain smoking race car fan? Probably not. When I first started working in this industry in the early 90s, that is what people thought of NASCAR fans. That was hard to deal with when wee were working with large companies trying to reach new fans. And in many ways, those stereotypes are still around. But I digress — thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  2. John Dawg Chapman

    If This had been done by a mid pack driver or owner they’d have been suspended. Not a doubt in my mind. I think ” sensitivity training” is a joke, but it’s how the game is played.
    I do think that Larson was sincere in realizing that what he thought was a private joke was beyond inappropriate and he went way beyond what was required. I still don’t know if he’d be back if Hendrick hadn’t wanted him. Rick swings a big stick in NASCAR. But all’s well that ends well I guess.

    1. Yes I agree. You have to wonder what Toyota would have said if this was Christopher Bell. Toyota only has a handful of drivers so perhaps losing one of their top guys means more to them. FedEx and JGR have all been very quiet so far.

  3. Dot Jones

    Not to mention that Toyota is a Japanese car manufacturer whom Denny just happens to drive for.

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