NASCAR announced earlier today that they have fined NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin $25 thousand for remarks he made after Sunday’s SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
“Following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event last Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, Denny Hamlin made some disparaging remarks about the on-track racing that had taken place that afternoon. While NASCAR gives its competitors ample leeway in voicing their opinions when it comes to a wide range of aspects about the sport, the sanctioning body will not tolerate publicly made comments by its drivers that denigrate the racing product,” stated NASCAR in released statement.
But what exactly did he say? Really it was nothing extreme or disrespectful at all. It was rather a very mild opinion on the racing and handling of the Generation Six car.
“I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation 5 cars,” Hamlin said. “This is more like what the Generation 5 was at the beginning. The teams hadn’t figured out how to get the aero balance right. Right now, you just run single-file and you cannot get around the guy in front of you. You would have placed me in 20th-place with 30 (laps) to go, I would have stayed there — I wouldn’t have moved up. It’s just one of those things where track position is everything.”
This is bad public relations for NASCAR when you think about it. Brad Keselowski, the reigning champion has said far worse numerous times, and has gone unpunished by NASCAR. However, NASCAR was quick to slap the fine on Hamlin.
Hamlin says he refuses to pay the fine and that he doesn’t care if NASCAR suspends him. This could get ugly really soon, but I don’t blame Hamlin one bit. He has a right to speak out as does any other driver. The car was popular in pre-season, but once it finally got on track and the aerodynamics have been tested, the opinions have changed around the garage area.
What he [Hamlin] said was a mere opinion of which many drivers share and a few have said as well on television without a penalty.
It’s time NASCAR gets a grip on how they handle situations like this. It makes them look like a joke when they go out and penalize drivers for saying something, then allow another driver to say something similar or worse without penalizing them. I hope by tomorrow they will resolve this issue and apologize to Hamlin.