Denny Hamlin May Be Getting More Attention, But Enjoying It Less

Hamlin at Miami

Someone once said, any publicity is good publicity. Speaking as someone with a marketing background, don’t believe it. Denny Hamlin has been getting a lot more face time lately, but I think it’s safe to say he’s enjoying it less.

I don’t think I’d enjoy being a PR agent for Denny Hamlin or Joe Gibbs, that’s for sure. Not only has he quipped that “70 percent” of NASCAR drivers are on Adderall- a big NASCAR no-no, he’s also gained notoriety thanks to a budding feud with Bubba Wallace.

While he says he was only joking about the Adderall wisecrack, it was a poorly chosen attempt at humor. Testing positive for the drug gets you parked, just ask AJ Allmendinger. He claims it was a one-time use of Adderall that caused him to test positive for amphetimine use. Drug use- in general- is no laughing matter, and NASCAR, its even more so.

At the Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace commence to banging fenders. At his post-race interview, Wallace said he didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but suggested maybe Hamlin needed some Adderall. Since then, Wallace has been kicked off of Hamlin’s charity golf team, and Wallace won’t be playing basketball with Hamlin either.

Looks pretty infantile from here.

Denny Hamlin has had a pretty stellar career. With 31 Cup victories, he ranks 25th all time. Since his first fulltime season in 2006, he has never gone a full season without a win. In his career, Denny Hamlin has failed to make the playoffs only once. He just missed out on a Cup title in 2010 and finished third last season when it was all said and done.

With all that being said, Hamlin has never enjoyed the popularity that comes with such accomplishments. Perhaps we have a better idea why now. He’s always had a tendency to be a downer and whiney, two qualities that won’t endear you to fans. He’s also had a tendency to rub his fellow drivers the wrong way, and none of this recent stuff will help.

Some drivers with the reputation for being villains are there by calculus. Take Brad Keselowski, for example. For better or for worse, his actions and words are very well calculated. It gives him a bit of a bad boy reputation, but he has a reputation for speaking his mind, and he’s someone of whom you think twice before crossing him. Denny Hamlin seems to have suffered from quite a bit of miscalculus.

For his recent words and actions, Denny Hamlin has been judged guilty in the court of public opinion. I think he’d rather be known for winning races than generating controversy.