Denny Hamlin discussed the unique perspective he has gained since becoming co-owner of NASCAR Cup Series team 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan.
Denny Hamlin may still compete full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, just as he has done since the 2006. But his NASCAR career began to move in a different direction in 2020.
Hamlin had long considered team ownership, and after a rumor emerged of him joining NBA legend and longtime friend Michael Jordan and fielding a Cup Series team, the duo turned “fake news into real news” with the announcement of 23XI Racing, which came two years ago Wednesday (named at a later date).
The 23 is, of course, a reference to the six-time NBA champion’s jersey number. The XI is the Roman numeral for the number 11, a reference to the number on the three-time Daytona 500 champion’s Toyota Camry.
The team purchased a charter from the now defunct Germain Racing, and they signed Bubba Wallace, who was in his third season competing for Richard Petty Motorsports at the time, to drive their #23 Toyota in 2021. They also announced a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.
In 2021, they purchased a second charter for 2022 from the now defunct StarCom Racing, and they confirmed Kurt Busch, who was in his third season competing for Chip Ganassi Racing at the time, to drive the new #45 Toyota.
Now in his second season as a team owner, Hamlin has admitted that he has gained a whole new perspective by taking on this role, especially as he continues to manage the full-time competition aspect of the sport.
“For sure,” Hamlin said Beyond the Flag in an interview conducted earlier this season. “I think that the best quote I’ve seen is that I didn’t want to work at 9-5, so now I work 24/7. And that’s pretty much my hours, 24/7. I’m responding to emails at midnight or I’m responding to emails at 7:00 am. It’s non-stop. The meetings are non-stop.”
On average, combining the time he spends as a driver and the time he spends as a team owner, how many hours a week does the 41-year-old Chesterfield, Virginia native work?
While he finds it challenging to put an exact number on it, Hamlin broke it down for us.
“I would say, right now, I probably break it into 70/30,” he explained. “I’m a driver 70% of the time, owner 30% of the time. But I stack a lot of stuff into that 30% of the time that I spend.
“So it’s really hard to quantify too, hours, because if I think in my mind, then I work 100 hours a week, maybe more, because I’m constantly thinking about what I can do better as a driver, what mistakes I have made, it never stops.”
Hamlin has no immediate plans to stop driving, but he has positioned himself quite well for a long-term future in the sport as an owner when he does — and he should certainly have more time to focus on that single role at that time.
23XI Racing have already won three races since joining the Cup Series last year, including two so far in 2022.