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Did NASCAR execs go too far in Hamlin penalty? Kyle Petty says yes, and staunchly backs Hamlin, who says 'I won't pay.'

Did NASCAR execs go too far in Hamlin penalty? Kyle Petty says yes, and staunchly backs Hamlin, who says 'I won't pay.'

Kyle Petty rips NASCAR for penalizing Denny Hamlin (Photo: Kyle Petty)




   By Mike Mulhern

   Did NASCAR executives go  too far this time in hitting Denny Hamlin Thursday with a $25,000 fine for his post-race comments Sunday evening after the Phoenix 500?
   Hamlin's analysis of that race and how the new 2013 stock cars performed was rather mild-mannered, all things considered. And, to be blunt, Hamlin's comments were right on the mark -- the new cars still need tweaks to make them handle better, as anyone who watched Daytona and Phoenix could easily attest.
   But NASCAR officials, certainly with the okay by, if not orders from, president Mike Helton and CEO Brian France have made it quite clear to drivers and teams they want to hear no complaints at all about the new cars. Hamlin's fine is only the latest NASCAR slap at drivers for offering their opinions. Hamlin has been heavily fined before, a secret fine at the time. And Brad Keselowski, the sport's current champion, has been fined too.
   So did NASCAR go too far this time?
   To judge from comments on Facebook and Twitter, fans Thursday were generally siding heavily with Hamlin and against NASCAR.
   Kyle Petty, the frequently outspoken driver-and-tv-analyst on hot button issues in this sport, wasted no time jumping into this fray, and with some blistering comments of his own. At word that Hamlin himself does not want to pay this fine, as unwarranted, Petty says "I'm going to stand behind Denny on this one."  

   Hamlin is not happy: "This is the most upset and angry I've been in a really, really long time about anything that relates to NASCAR.

  "The truth is what the truth is, and I don't believe in this. I'm never going to believe in it. And so as far as I’m concerned, I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me at this point."

   Kyle Petty, the third generation NASCAR Petty, comes from a solid line of stock car racers willing to stand up for what they believe. Here Kyle (center), with Richard (center-left) and Maurice. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    "Just because it's NASCAR's ball and their ballpark and they make the rules doesn't necessarily mean that there can be censorship. And there appears to be a lot of censorship in this fine," Petty went on. 
   "NASCAR wants drivers to have personalities and character and to express themselves... but only if they say positive and not negative things.  I don't know anyone who can do that.
   "I'm going to buy me a Denny Hamlin hat and tee-shirt, because drivers should stick up for themselves.  
   "It's hard to believe that this sport has come to this, where we fine drivers for comments. 
   "Whatever happened to fining drivers for big motors and illegal bodies and cheating on the track? Now it appears they don't have a right to have an opinion off the race track.
   "I could not survive in this sport as a driver at this time. I'd be paying a fine every week.  I'd be broke.
   "But here's the way it works:  It's NASCAR's ball, their ballpark, their rules, and if you want to play, you got to pay.  You can stand up and blow smoke and hot air all you want, but somebody's going to have to pay that fine if it comes down to that.. or it's going to have to be appealed and overturned."


   Kyle Petty is never one to shy away from a challenge...even one presented by the NASCAR Frances (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Amen, Denny

I'm sure Mike Helton will give Denny the ole Days of Thunder speech for Big John on Friday, but I commend Denny for having the onions to stand up for himself and not cower down to the almighty NASCAR. He shouldn't pay the fine, and shouldn't be made to. I doubt NASCAR will back down now that Denny has said he won't pay the fine, but it's still a shame that they are censoring the drivers. The fans shouldn't stand for this either.

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Brian Frace is....out of touch

How about Denny Hamlin starting a war between NASCAR & it's fans! Lets get Brian France, Robin Pempton & Mike Helton OUT OF NASCAR!!! They're ruining The sport!!!! Put Darrell Waltrip in charge & let him run NASCAR

NASCAR's Benghazi

Pemberton looked and acted exactly like Susan Rice did about Benghazi !! He looked like a STOOGE who didn\'t quite believe in his own message, but was forced to FRONT for some unidentified GodFather. I smell a oversensitive King in some new clothes that need a few alterations !!
The networks could conceal the identity and disguise the voice of drivers who want to speak their mind. That way Senator McCarthy...er Brian France would have to do a lot more digging to find his victims. Doesn\'t NASCAR have something better to do than filter through driver post-race comments. They must have SECRET SENSORS near every microphone reporting directly to the secret NASCAR police.

Hamlin fine

it is NASCAR\'s ballpark & their rules. However, I think I will stay home next ballgame & take my $ to the local dirt track, where you can still be a personality & not a mindless robot. Now, mind you, i don\'t spend but about a couple grand a year on going t NASCAR races but this is a couple grand they will not get from me.
NASCAR, when there are no more fans, no more drivers and car/tseam sponsers, what wll your business model be?


All the drivers could refuse to race this week, until NASCAR agrees to let people say what they believe. Some made a analogy that a cook couldn't tell you that the food is bad, or you wouldn't go to that restaurant, and he should be fired. Well if the food is bad, then as a paying customer, I have a right to know before I give you my hard earned money.
If NASCAR wants drivers to say positive things, then they need to give them something to be positive about.
There has to be a way to make these car not so dependent on aero. I know they want it like IROC, so the sponsors with pay their money. But racing has always been, and will always be about the best driver, and the best racing team staying within the rules. Not about, "well it fits the template, but we don't like it so we're going to penalize you. Last year when Hendrick came up with something legal in the rear of the car, and no else could figure it out, instead of making the other teams work on it until they got, NO, NASCAR decided they needed to write more rules for that area. So much for being a better race team than everyone else.

Fine for Hamlin so stupid

Well, I\'m not a fan of Denny\'s but I agree that this fine is so stupid on NASCAR\'s part. If they want the fans to believe anything the drivers say, they can\'t fine them for telling the truth.

Before any words came from any of the driver\'s I had already formed my own opinion about the car and that was \"this needs work\".

I\'ve been waiting for NASCAR to prove that all the hype about how great this car was going to be was valid. Two races in - not so much - will Las Vegas be better? I doubt it.

Its apparent that NASCAR\'s management thinks they still live in the stone age when information flowed slowly through the world - with twitter, the web and other fast outlets, news travels like lightning and right now, NASCAR is not looking good.

boycott nascrap

boycott nascrap

If NASCAR only had a brain & some common sense!

Great article Mike. And kudos to Kyle Petty for telling it like it is.

Now the vanilla drivers are going to be even more vanilla than before. What NASCAR did was censorship pure and simple. I have been saying this for years, NASCAR leadership starts at the top and look who's at the top. Brian "who me?" France. He is NOT management material. He's a weak leader and seems to be seriously out of touch with the fans and drivers. I think his Daddy and I know Big Bill, would have fired his sorry butt by now. NASCAR needs a new person in charge. I don't see anyone in the France family as being a capable leader. They need to look elsewhere and find somebody that can make the hard decisions and still relate to the fans.

Look at Roger Goodell and his leadership of the NFL. The guy relates with the fans. He tailgates with them and sits in the stands on occasion with them. When has a fan seen Brian at the track or sitting in the stands? Never.

I've been a fan for about 48 years now and I firmly believe that what is mainly wrong with NASCAR is it's leadership, or should I lack of. NASCAR needs a strong leader with knowledge of the sport, cars, drivers and fans. It all starts at the top and what we have at the top right now is pathetic.


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