Friday, March 8, 2013

Hamlin to appeal fine for Gen-6 criticism

Denny Hamlin during Thursday's test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images
Denny Hamlin said he will appeal the $25,000 fine issued by NASCAR for comments he made criticizing the new Gen-6 racecar last week at Phoenix.

An upset Hamlin issued the following statement on his Twitter account Thursday night:

"The short of the long of it is I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined. I believe that the simple fact of us not even having a conversation about this issue before I was hit with a fine has something to say about our relationship. What I said was 1 sentence taken completely out of context. Most drivers will tell you that we constantly have our AND nascars best interest in mind when speaking. On the other hand I am a person that worked very hard from the BOTTOM to get where I am today and someone telling me that I can give my 100 percent honest opinion really bothers me. Since being fined in 2010 I have been a lot more careful about what I say to media and I felt this past weekend felt completely in my rights to give a assessment of the question asked. I feel as if today NASCAR lost one of its biggest supporters vocally of where our sport is headed. So in the end there are no winners. I said today I would not pay the fine. I stand by that and will go through the process of appealing. Trust me, this is not about the money.. It's much deeper. I will now shift my focus on giving FedEx and my team what they deserve this weekend, a win."

When announcing the fine Thursday, NASCAR said the Joe Gibbs Racing driver made "disparaging remarks about the on-track racing that had taken place that afternoon" at Phoenix.

NASCAR didn't specify which comments from Hamlin they considered detrimental. But according to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass, Hamlin compared the Gen-6 racecar to its precursor, the much-maligned Car of Tomorrow, in a pit road interview after Sunday's Sprint Cup race.

“I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation five cars," Hamlin said. "This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning. The teams hadn't figured out how to get the aero balance right.”

In its statement, the sanctioning body said, "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.”

Hamlin said at Thursday's test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that he refused to pay the fine, which he reiterated on Twitter.

As for Hamlin's appeal, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said the process is the same as that for technical violations.

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