NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin tops the unofficial “Most Hated Drivers” list Sean Gardner/Getty Images
JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, is introduced prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 17, 2017 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In a Utopian world, everyone does the right thing, says the right thing and love abounds.

Neither NASCAR nor country music is Utopia though. People say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing and the gates of hell fling wide open as spectators and fans pounce on errors, bad decisions or anything they disagree with.

It’s part of being a celebrity in the public eye.

But to be named to a “Most Hated” list?

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The very unofficial “Most Hated Drivers” list has bounced around for several years in NASCAR, and if you Google it, you might be surprised by some of the names you could find on it in any given year. Even fan favorites like Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were once granted spots on the collection of reviled racers. So, in light of recent events, it’s no surprise that “Beyond the Flag” has bumped Kyle Busch from the top of its unofficial “Most Hated” list and replaced him with Denny Hamlin.

As Rare Country previously reported, prior to the Daytona 500, Denny took part in the “Pardon My Take” podcast and when he was asked if any drivers took the restricted drug Adderall, he said yes, “70 percent.” He later told ESPN that the podcast is known for it’s funny, joking tone, and that he had just thrown out an arbitrary number.

Of course, most NASCAR fans have now seen the altercation that took place outside the media room in Daytona between Denny and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace after the pair swapped paint towards the end of the 500 as they raced for second place.

And while some may consider the behavior unsportsmanlike and others might say “rubbin’, son, is racin’,” as “By the Flag” points out, it’s good for the sport.


“Hamlin’s antics create storylines and get people riled up, thus leading to much more excitement surrounding even what would otherwise seem like average race weekends,” writes Asher Fair. “As a result, more people follow along with the sport closer than they otherwise would, as there will likely be more drama and more interesting battles to watch and storylines to follow.”

Asher goes on to say, “While it may have happened at some point, it’s extremely hard to see fans completely leaving NASCAR over Hamlin’s behavior and Hamlin’s behavior alone. It simply would not make sense. All sports have their villains, and NASCAR is no exception to that.”

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The same could be said for reality TV, politics and even country music. And because of the nature of digital media, algorithms don’t distinguish among “likes,” “dislikes,” nice comments, hateful comments or pukey face emojis, they just recognize that interest is shown in a subject.

It’s worth noting that Denny has been pretty much radio silent since engaging in a Twitter rant after Daytona. Whether that means he is rethinking the way he conducts business or is simply focusing on the 2018 season is unknown. It also deserves mentioning that Denny and his FedEx partners have a heart for Safe Kids Worldwide.

As always, we wish all of the drivers a safe and successful race to the cup.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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