Hamlin “emotional” after Busch claimed win for his 23XI NASCAR team

Busch passed his brother Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson in the final laps on Sunday to claim his first win since joining the 23XI Racing team for 2022, that is co-owned by Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan. 

It was only the second win for the NASCAR team after Bubba Wallace took victory in a shortened Talladega race during the team’s debut season last year.

Hamlin was competing in that race last year, but after coming home fourth on Sunday, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, the three-time Daytona 500 winner was overcome by emotion following the chequered flag.

“One of the most fun things is having a front row seat to those final 25 laps,” said Hamlin.

“I mean, it was right there in front of me. I’m pushing, because honestly I really wanted a one-two finish like really bad, but my car just wasn’t where it was early in the day and the track rubbered up, and we just weren’t as good. 

“That was the fun part – seeing it and seeing it live. Yes, I’m watching it, and I’m just, you, know, ‘Go, go.’ It’s such a weird feeling. But I looked at my lap times and I was doing my job.

“I wasn’t letting up at all and getting the most out of the car I could, but you just can’t help but be emotional about it. Certainly there’s been no win that I’ve had that has equalled the emotions of this one for sure.”

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx Ground Toyota Camry

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Hamlin, a 47-time NASCAR Cup race winner, admitted it was difficult to explain his emotions, but revealed that actually racing on the track behind Busch, driving one of his cars to victory stirred up his feelings.

“I’ve obviously been excited for the Daytona 500, but I just don’t know why this one just feels bigger to me,” he added.

“I think a lot of it is because I watched it live. I think had I been on the other side of the track and just kind of looked at the pylon it would be one thing.

“But I had a front row seat to it. I don’t know. I’ve kind of got a very tough RBF [resting bitch face], yeah, and I don’t show my emotion a lot.”