When it comes to drivers and NASCAR, seldom does push ever come to shove.
Yet given Denny Hamlin's recent displeasure with the sanctioning body fining him $25,000 for "actions detrimental to stock-car racing'' -- and the driver's promise not to pay the fine, followed by "If they suspend me, they suspend me" -- one has to wonder what his loss would mean to the sport.
Yes, Hamlin said on Thursday, "I don't care at this point." And he later announced his plans to appeal the fine -- with his team, Joe Gibbs Racing, offering its full support.
But no one really believes this dispute will ever escalate to the point of the driver's becoming a spectator and not a participant.
However, if Hamlin -- who will start in the third row of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 -- were sidelined, could his absence be quantified?
Certainly, the loyalists of "Free Denny Nation'' would miss watching their driver mixing it up on race day. Surely, JGR could find a replacement. Back-up drivers are plentiful.