NASCAR: Denny Hamlin signs contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Denny Hamlin, whose contract was set to expire after the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, has signed a multi-year extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin was slated to enter the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season as one of the top pending free agents for when the next offseason rolls around. That won’t be the case.

The 40-year-old Chesterfield, Virginia native, whose future was the subject of all sorts of bizarre rumors last summer, has signed a multi-year contract extension to continue driving the #11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

FedEx has also signed a multi-year extension to continue serving as the primary sponsor of the #11 Toyota the vast majority of the time.

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Hamlin, who is still seeking his first championship despite having won 44 races, including 13 in the last two seasons, has only ever driven for Joe Gibbs Racing since he began competing at NASCAR’s top level in 2005.

Hamlin is the winningest non-champion of all-time among full-time drivers. Only Junior Johnson, who never ran a full schedule, has more wins to his name (50) than Hamlin does among drivers without a title.

Here is what Hamlin had to say about this extension in a team release.

"“I’m so fortunate to have the support of FedEx behind me throughout my career. I take a tremendous amount of pride in having the opportunity to represent them not only on the racetrack, but also in the community through the countless programs they have supported for the better part of these past two decades.”"

Here is what team owner Joe Gibbs had to say.

"“The relationship between FedEx and our organization has been a tremendous success story in so many ways and we’re excited that FedEx will continue to support Denny and our No. 11 team. Denny continues to perform at the top of our sport and our goal is to continue to position him and FedEx to win a championship.”"

Here is what Jenny Robertson, Senior Vice President, FedEx Integrated and Marketing Communications, had to add.

"“FedEx has remained the primary sponsor of the No. 11 car and Denny Hamlin for over fifteen years, and together we have celebrated many successes on and off the track including 3 Daytona 500 wins. The FedEx Racing relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing has continued to provide meaningful opportunities for us to engage our customers, team members, and fans, as well as make a positive impact in the community. We are honored to extend this relationship with the Joe Gibbs Racing organization for multiple years and continue the drive for a NASCAR Cup Series championship.”"

In addition to his role as a driver, the 2021 season is also set to mark Hamlin’s first season as a team owner, as he started 23XI Racing with longtime friend and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

This one-car team will have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Bubba Wallace is set to drive their #23 Toyota.

Hamlin’s extension with Gibbs’s team shuts the door on him driving for his own team for at least the next few seasons, one of the many rumors which abounded last year.

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Hamlin, who became the sixth driver to win the Daytona 500 at least three times and the fourth driver to win it twice in a row in 2020, is set to attempt to become just the third driver to win it four times and the first driver to win it three times in a row on Sunday, February 14 in the race’s 63rd annual running at Daytona International Speedway. Fox is set to broadcast the race, the 2021 season opener, live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.