Did Denny Hamlin throw his name in the hat for Hendrick Motorsports’ coveted #48 seat in 2021?
Last week Hamlin went out on Lake Norman north of Charlotte with team owner Rick Hendrick and equity partner Jeff Gordon. We know this because Hamlin posted video of the three on a speed boat flying across Lake Norman like a Star Wars speedster.
Rick Hendrick had the boys cruising around 115mph while carrying on a conversation with Hamlin. Just one hand on the wheel like a boss, while wearing a button up and khakis, in a boat, on a lake. That just screams rich old guy and you have to respect it.
Hamlin To Hendrick?
Are they all friends? Sure. This could have just been three friends hanging out on a boat just wanting to see how fast they can go.
Could this also have been a business meeting? Rick Hendrick has a very coveted seat open at the end of the season, a seat that he would like to toss a veteran in to help lead his stable of young drivers. Much like Keselowski, Hamlin fits that job description.
Denny Hamlin signed an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing during Speedweeks in 2017. At the time Hamlin said he would be “much grayer” they next time he is up for renewal. Assuming his extension was a 5 year deal that puts him at Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2021 season. Whether or not there are options is anyone’s guess since most terms of contracts in NASCAR aren’t made public.
Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota Racing Development have a log jam of talent and not many places to put them. Denny Hamlin turns 40 this season, age never goes down, it continually goes up regardless of what Joe Rogan and his guests say. Would Gibbs consider pulling a Williams F1 by dropping a proven winner in favor of a youthful movement?
JGR values Christopher Bell highly but at the moment the team has no where to put him. This week Erik Jones mentioned after Pocono that he has started talks with Gibbs on an extension. Assuming that’s true, Bell wouldn’t be taking over the #20 in 2021. But, if Gibbs lets Hamlin walk, there would be a seat for him in 2021.
Leaving Gibbs after 2020 would certainly be shocking should Hamlin do it. Through 15 races Hamlin has 4 wins and is coming off a season where he won 6 races and made it to the Championship 4.
Of course, they could just all be friends enjoying a casual boat ride.
But, bring back the #5.
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