Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - Denny Hamlin is refusing to pay a fine of
$25,000 assessed to him by NASCAR for making derogatory comments about the new
Sprint Cup Series race car, the Gen-6, last weekend at Phoenix International
NASCAR handed down the fine to Hamlin on Thursday after officials determined
that he violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the
2013 NASCAR Rule Book. Hamlin did not receive a loss of points, and he was not
placed on probation.
This past Sunday at Phoenix, Hamlin finished third in the Subway Fresh Fit 500
after starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change. He was
asked what his thoughts were of the Gen-6 following the second race of the
His response, "We learned a lot. I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did
not race as good as our generation five cars. 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. Right now, you just run single-file, and you cannot
get around the guy in front of you. If 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."
NASCAR issued a statement when it announced Hamlin's penalty.
"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," the statement read.
"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
Hamlin was furious when he learned of his penalty and said he was not going to
pay the fine.
"Ultimately,"I'm not okay with it," Hamlin said on Thursday at Las Vegas Motor
Speedway, where Sprint Cup teams spent the day testing the car in preparation
for Sunday's 400-mile race here. "This is the most upset and angry I've been
in a really, really long time about anything that relates to NASCAR ... As far
as I'm concerned, I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, then they
suspend me. I don't care at this point."
According to NASCAR rules, Hamlin could be suspended from competition if he
does not pay the fine in a timely manner.
Hamlin noted that NASCAR was upset with him in comparing the Gen-6 with the
previous race car, the fifth generation car, which was commonly referred to as
the Car of Tomorrow when it made its debut in 2007. NASCAR used that vehicle
for five years. Hamlin said he was giving his opinion about the Gen-6, and he
didn't think it was a bad opinion.
"I have to be careful, because I don't want to make things worse than they
already are, and this is something that was absolutely nothing and it got
blown into something," he said. "It's just going to be worse for them, so let
them deal with it."
Hamlin also vowed not to make any more comments that relate to competition.
"To be honest, I'm not going to say anything for the rest of the year, as long
as it relates to competition," he said. "You can ask me how my daughter is,
talk to me after wins about what have you, but as long as it relates to
competition, I'm out from here on out."
Drivers and teams have learned that the Gen-6 cars -- Chevrolet SS, Ford
Fusion and Toyota Camry -- are faster and have more downforce and better grip
than the last cars. But drivers have noticed that passing is difficult, and
there has been a lack of side-by-side racing.
During a press conference held at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas racetrack, NASCAR
vice president of competition Robin Pemberton defended the sanctioning body's
decision to penalize Hamlin.
"We give them (drivers) quite a bit of latitude, but you can't slam your
racing, you can't slam your product," Pemberton said. "That's where it crosses
Hamlin can appeal the penalty. Pemberton pointed out that Hamlin would have to
notify NASCAR in writing of his appeal.
"It's like every other appeal," he said. "Over the course of time, you
remember mechanics and crew chiefs, whatever, if they appeal, then they can
continue to carry on business as usual until the appeal has been heard and
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