Denny Hamlin apologised to Kyle Larson on Twitter following a message from the #11 driver’s account. What is the significance of Hamlin’s apology to Larson?
At Talladega, NASCAR Cup races frequently culminate with a final lap where at least one vehicle is damaged and battered while another drives to victory lane. At 2.66 miles, it is the longest circuit in Cup, and there is never a dull finish as cars try to break the timing beam first.
It was no different on Sunday for the 2022 spring race, as Erik Jones in the historic #43 led the field onto the final lap. Things got started in the tri-oval when Kyle Larson swerved up the track to throw a block.
This resulted in a crash involving both 23XI Racing cars, and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain took his second win of the season. Denny Hamlin responded to the situation by tweeting a Family Guy clip criticising Kyle Larson. Why, then, did Hamlin apologise to Larson for using the clip?
With a few laps to go, Hamlin’s #11 Joe Gibbs machine was leading the field, but fuel pressure issues forced him out of contention. The 23XI Racing cars of Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch made a move to the outside as they approached the checkered flag.
Larson, in the #5 Hendrick machine, then flicked right to block – but this resulted in both 23XI entrants colliding with the wall, with Wallace needing a few moments to collect his breath after climbing out of the #23.
23XI Racing is co-owned by Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Hamlin posted a clip from ‘Family Guy’ on Monday, April 25th. Kyle Larson’s name was overlaid over the short movie, in which an Asian driver cuts across numerous lanes of traffic, causing various accidents.
Hamlin found it amusing because he now faces a large repair bill for the damage to the #23 and #45. However, because Larson is Japanese-American, the clip has been deemed disrespectful and racist to Asian people.
Denny Hamlin, who apologised to Kyle Larson on Tuesday, has since deleted the offending post.
“I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments,” wrote the triple-Daytona 500 winner.
“It was a poor choice of memes… and it came across totally wrong. I apologise.”
Hamlin’s sensitivity training has now been formally mandated by NASCAR, and he must begin by the end of this week. Each driver was required to take a round of sensitivity training as part of NASCAR’s campaign for more diversity and equality.
Following a late-race collision at Martinsville in the semi-final Playoff eliminator in 2021, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was fined and given the training after referring to another driver as the r-word.
Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson, who won at Richmond and Fontana, respectively, have already qualified for the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs.