Denny Hamlin calls social media spat with track executive 'regretful'

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Denny Hamlin called it “regretful” that a social media discourse this week with Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, turned personal.

Hamlin and Smith, whose company operates 10 tracks that host Cup races, got into an argument on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, early Friday morning.

It started after a report of a portion of the repaved track at Sonoma Raceway coming apart Thursday ahead of a series of races there.

Hamlin wrote on X: “When paving on a budget goes wrong. (North Wilkesboro) will be next.”

Smith took offense and responded on X: “This is a great post from somebody who doesn’t know all the information. Ignorance on display for the world to see!”

Hamlin then referenced Speedway Motorsports’ (reconfiguration) record.

Smith responded: “Yes we take risks. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. We’ve seen your attempt of the championship as well. When you have a chance, maybe you could give me some golf tips.”

Hamlin then wrote: “Heres (sic) your tip. Let someone else run your business before you blow everything your dad gave you.”

Smith then made another reference to Hamlin having not won a Cup title, calling the driver an “almost NASCAR Champion.”

NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out 400 - Qualifying
NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out 400 - Qualifying

Kyle Larson wins the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville

Kyle Larson won the pole for the second consecutive week.

Smith deleted those tweets Friday morning, writing on X: “I shouldn’t let social media conversations get personal, so I deleted those posts.”

Hamlin wrote: “I’ll definitely take responsibility for my part in it. It got more personal than it should have for sure.”

NASCAR Cup Series NOCO 400
NASCAR Cup Series NOCO 400

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The back and forth came amid underlying tensions in the sport as teams seek more money, which may come from tracks, as part of a new charter agreement with NASCAR. Under the media rights deal that expires after this season, NASCAR receives 10% of the media rights money, tracks receive 65% and teams 25%.

Teams have been vocal about needing additional money so they don’t have to rely so much on sponsorship to stay afloat.

Asked if that matter played a role in the issues with Smith, Hamlin said: “Certainly there was some underlying frustration from my standpoint that I let get the better of me. No doubt about it. Certainly didn’t need to get personal, but it kind of took a turn for that pretty quick. So certainly regrettable from my standpoint.

“Between the tracks and NASCAR there’s nearly half a billion dollars in profit and I hate to see that (teams are) struggling, swimming upstream. … It’s tough because we’re in a fight. It’s not pretty, not going to be pretty. There’s some underlying frustration there that I kind of let go out at the wrong way.”

North Wilkesboro Speedway, owned by Smith’s company, has been repaved ahead of next month’s All-Star Race. Asked about what pointed him toward potential problems with the track surface, Hamlin said: “We had a car at the (tire) test (in March) that had some issues.

“Versus going on the negatives, I’ll just tell you the positives and that every (NASCAR-owned) track that has been paved in the last six (years) has had no patches on it whatsoever. So they’ve done a really good job of investing their profits back into the racetrack really well. You know, let’s just kind of learn from this and move on.”