NASCAR: What has happened to Denny Hamlin and FedEx?

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

FedEx hasn’t been Denny Hamlin’s primary sponsor on his NASCAR Cup Series car in well over a month. Is this a sign of things to come?

FedEx has been Denny Hamlin’s primary sponsor in the NASCAR Cup Series since he made his series debut back in 2005.

Few partnerships have been more iconic and successful throughout a Cup Series career than that between the transport company and the Chesterfield, Virginia native, and few have lasted as long as this one has.

But lately, FedEx’s presence on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has been limited to a few small decals. They haven’t been a primary sponsor of Hamlin’s car since the June race at Nashville Superspeedway, and neither FedEx nor Hamlin have contracts to return to the No. 11 car or Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2024 season.

On the streets of Chicago, Yahoo! sponsored Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, and at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Coca-Cola sponsored the Coca-Cola Racing Family driver.

After agreeing to a five-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, Mavis Tires & Brakes sponsored Hamlin at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond Raceway, and Michigan International Speedway. They are set to do so again at Watkins Glen International next weekend.

Does FedEx’s recent lack of sponsorship spell trouble for Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing beyond the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season?

On one hand, it’s a plus that Joe Gibbs Racing are able to attract alternative sponsors for Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, something they were apparently unable to do last year for Kyle Busch before his departure for Richard Childress Racing.

On another, we heard in early June that FedEx planned to renew their sponsorship for 2024. Yet more than two months after supposedly being “close” to a deal, nothing has officially been announced.

And let’s be frank: even a renewed partnership likely won’t see the brand make any more appearances on the No. 11 Toyota than they are currently making, a stark contrast to the way things were just a few years ago. FedEx used to be on the car for 30+ races per year.

While Joe Gibbs himself and Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson have both said that Hamlin will be back with the team next year, once again, there has been no formal confirmation or contract signing.

As we know from the recent past, and with this team — and manufacturer — in particular, until the pen is put to paper, anything is possible.

Hamlin could very well remain with Toyota by joining his own 23XI Racing, which he co-owns with NBA legend Michael Jordan, in a third car alongside Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota and Tyler Reddick’s No. 45 Toyota.

The team have admitted that running three full-time cars may not make financial sense, but they certainly have the resources to make it happen after expanding to two cars just one year ago.

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Regardless of what happens, FedEx has been a loyal partner of Hamlin for 19 years, which is quite rare in this day and age, and he remains grateful to the company for their continued support and everything they have achieved together along the way, including three Daytona 500 wins.