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“Fast Champion,” Denny Hamlin, embroiled in an ugly feud with the SMI president over “wasted daddy’s money” amid the Sonoma Repave disaster

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Another day of Denny Hamlin making headlines, but this time there's a difference. While the JGR driver's bunny-hopping for the restart in Richmond has yet to subside, this time Hamlin engaged in a heated banter on Twitter with Speedway Motorsports Inc. President Marcus Smith. The topic of debate is none other than the redevelopment of Sonoma Raceway.

Sonoma Raceway has always held a place of honor in the NASCAR schedule. Aside from the lush green landscape, the 12-turn racetrack has hosted some of the most beautiful racing in NASCAR history. Still, after hosting races for more than two decades, the track underwent rehabilitation for the first time in 23 years before hosting NASCAR races in June. However, it appears there are issues on the newly paved track that have led to a Twitter war between Denny Hamlin and Marcus Smith.

Marcus Smith takes a swipe at championship-less Denny Hamlin

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Since the 2.52-mile racetrack is used for more than 300 days each year, it goes without saying that the track surface is subject to massive wear and tear. It was therefore announced in December that the road would be resurfaced and completed in February. In line with progress and schedule, the old track was milled, the cracks repaired and a new layer of asphalt was poured over it to give it the finishing touches.

However, it appears the track is far from its new look as chunks of asphalt are starting to peel off. Due to this surface rupture, scheduled testing for SRO America was canceled to conduct further repairs. This incident led to Denny Hamlin engaging in a bitter verbal battle with Marcus Smith on Twitter, and the conversation became increasingly dark as it continued.

Hamlin re-posted a picture of the broken track and explained: “When setting a budget goes wrong, it’s the NWB’s turn.” To this Smith replied: This is a great post from someone who doesn't know all the information. Ignorance on display for the world to see! I will delete this tweet if @dennyhamlin send me a text message or call me directly to ask why this is happening.)

While the conversation could have ended with Smith addressing the issue, Denny Hamlin took the opportunity to claim: “You don’t have to delete. We have seen your reconfiguration record.” Instead of calling for a ceasefire, Smith instead declared: “Yes, we take risks, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. We also saw your attempt to win the championship. If you get a chance, maybe you could give me some golf tips.”

As the exchange became increasingly personal, Hamlin lashed out at Smith, expressing: “Here’s your tip. Let someone else run your business before you screw up everything your father gave you.” Instead of silently observing the No. 11 Toyota's argument, the president of SMI took a bitter swipe at the driver.

Smith added: “SOh proud of my father! Hall of Famer! If he had a Twitter/X account, I don't think his comment would be family friendly. So listen here, almost @NASCAR Champion, you keep working at it and one day you will win a big trophy! Thanks for the tip!”

The President of SMI further added: Following on from my previous post, our team at Speedway Motorsports has an amazing track record of exceeding expectations. Your casual post is an insult to the hundreds of people who are committed to exceeding the expectations of the racing community @NASCAR Fans all over the world. Your negative comments would carry a lot more weight if you had a championship to back them up. Good luck in your search for 2024.”

One might wonder what was the origin of this acrimonious exchange between the two veterans and how the track broke down in its current state, because one has to rewind to Wednesday's pre-season test for SRO, especially after Goodyear's tire test after pavement was completed.

Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr continues to hope for the newly asphalted track

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Sonoma Raceway was scheduled to host a two-day preseason test for SRO America. However, the track showed signs of cracks on the first day of testing. Because of this, SRO America was forced to stop testing. Additionally, this incident occurred after Goodyear tested its tires for the upcoming Cup Series race in June.

The tire test was crucial as the new and special asphalt compound would contribute to perfect tire wear. A custom asphalt mix from Bay Cities Grading and Paving laid the route, bringing in nearly 2,000 tons of this custom mix, while ABSL Construction did the heavy lifting of milling the old surfacece away.

About the new track, Martin Truex Jr., who took part in the tests, said: “The tire wear was part of the magic we found and I was comfortable with it, so with the new road surface this is a whole new ballgame. We have to approach it a little differently, but still the same route and the same lines. We learned a lot today and hope we can choose a good tire and work on making the car even faster. If we can do that, it would be our first five-win stretch, so we’re looking forward to that.”

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With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Marcus Smith takes the on-track break into account and reverses the changes before NASCAR hits the track in June.