As we already know NASCAR has fined Denny Hamlin for post-race remarks about the new “Generation 6” race car. Hamlin told reporters at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that he would not pay the fine. This is where it gets to be fun, and not the good kind of fun.
Hamlin is walking a dangerous line because NASCAR owns the show, no questions asked. As a few people have pointed out on Twitter, Hamlin needs NASCAR more than NASCAR needs Hamlin. If he feels otherwise, he should ask his teammate Kyle Busch about his experiences with NASCAR’s authority.
Robin Pemberton, vice-president of competition for NASCAR, was in the media center conveniently after the penalty was announced and after Hamlin mentioned he would not pay the fine.
Pemberton cover the basics for the penalty, that like any penalty by NASCAR, Hamlin has the right to appeal the decision. Plus there is a window that he can make his $25,000 fine, although NASCAR would like it paid ASAP.
For that appeal, Pemberton reiterated the course of action stays the same. Hamlin will have to write a letter appealing the decision of NASCAR. While he waits for the appeal he will be able to compete, although I highly doubt he will miss any races over this.
The biggest point made by Pemberton was this: “It’s more of a matter of fact that you can’t criticize your core product, what you’re trying to do. Constructive criticism is one thing, but there’s statements that people made that are damaging. That’s where we won’t tolerate those types of things.
My assessment of the situation is this; Hamlin is hot right now and that’s why he’s saying he refuses to pay the fine. He will eventually come to his senses and will pay the fine because that’s the fastest way to moving on and I’m not sure the National Stockcar Racing Commission will overturn the penalty. NASCAR in turn has drawn the line in the sand regarding comments on this new “Generation 6” car and drivers will have to be careful what they say.
As I mentioned on Twitter, drivers need to use open language when talking about the car, not absolute. For example say: “the car wasn’t good today, but I know NASCAR is working on it.” Versus: “this car was the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever driven, I’m sorry to the fans who watched this.” The first has allows the driver to mention that it was bad, but leaves that window open for improvement. The second just cuts that out and gives no hope to fans, which is whom NASCAR is most worried about with these types of comments.
Commentary on the issue should be interesting as most media members are fearing drivers will completely clam up on them during interviews. I guess “Boys Have At It” is saved for on the track, not off.