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NASCAR officials moving fast to defuse Denny Hamlin controversy

NASCAR officials moving fast to defuse Denny Hamlin controversy

Denny Hamlin: I won't pay. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   That hotly controversial $25,000 fine NASCAR hit Denny Hamlin with, for offering his brief opinion about the new lackluster 2013s after a less-than-thrilling Phoenix 500K 10 days ago -- NASCAR late Thursday abruptly called the matter "closed."
   Neither NASCAR officials nor Hamlin would say just what went on behind closed doors the past few days in their discussions over the issue, which created a whirlwind of negative comments on social media from fans' dissatisfied with NASCAR's heavy-handed actions.
   Hamlin at Las Vegas last weekend said he was highly upset over the NASCAR penalty and would not pay the fine. At that time he indicated he would file a routine appeal; but Thursday he and NASCAR said there would be no appeal.
   Under normal rules, if a driver refuses to pay a fine, he can be suspended or his fine may be subtracted either from his race day earnings or from his end-of-the-season point fund money.
   It appears that is the case Hamlin is taking, but it is not clear.
   NASCAR's statement:   
   "NASCAR announced today that the $25,000 fine assessed to driver Denny Hamlin on March 7 will be settled per Section 12-3 of the 2013 NASCAR rule book after being informed by Hamlin that he will not appeal the penalty. Hamlin was fined after the sanctioning body determined he had violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing). NASCAR considers this matter closed."
   Hamlin's statement, via Twitter:
   "After a lot of thought I have decided not to appeal the fine NASCAR has issued. Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next 2 weeks would not be good for anyone. I firmly believe I am in the right on this issue and will stand behind my decision not to pay. I understand NASCAR will do what they feel is necessary based on my decision. Thanks to all of my fans and peers who have supported me in this decision. I look forward to putting it to rest."
   The background here:
    NASCAR's new 2013 model stockers are part of a major new marketing plan, designed to eliminate the 'common template' complaints and other gripes about the disliked car-of-tomorrow, used the last six seasons on the Sprint Cup tour. And NASCAR executives have warned drivers and teams, in no uncertain terms, not to say anything bad about the new 2013s, under penalty of NASCAR's wrath.
    However the 2013s are months behind schedule, for some reason, and handling clearly needs tweaking.
   The Daytona 500, which was single-file, follow-the-leader for more than three hours, was one of the least exciting Daytona races in  decades; and Carl Edwards crashed five times, indicating some of the issues drivers were facing.
   The Phoenix 500K March 3 featured erratic racing and not much 'real' passing. NASCAR's own figures, derived from the numerous asphalt-embedded scoring loops, showed that this year's Phoenix race had 1,213 passes-for-position under green, compared to last year's 1,658 such passes, with the old COT.
   Hamlin, who won last year's Phoenix race and finished third, via good pit calls, this time, said after that race that the new car wasn't as good as the old car, at the moment. Of course that was only the second Cup race for the new car.
   Hamlin's comments went virtually unnoticed, until NASCAR executives last Thursday decided to fine him $25,000, thus raising the profile of the complaint....and earning the anger from a considerable number of race fans, who stormed social media to decry NASCAR's actions.
   Dale Jarrett, one of NASCAR's top drivers during his prime, and the 1999 Winston Cup championship, and now a TV analyst, castigated NASCAR officials for hitting Hamlin with such a penalty. Jarrett said that NASCAR, by that action, was endangering its credibility.
   Kyle Petty, the former driver now also TV commentator, also ripped NASCAR for the penalty, calling it censorship.
   Drivers, already skittish about offering any comments even remotely controversial, after several similar huge fines from NASCAR, were noticeably reluctant to say anything about anything last weekend at Las Vegas. Whether NASCAR officials can undo or ameliorate that imbroglio remains to be seen.


I have pictures of me on my dad's stock car in

I have pictures of me on my dad's stock car in the 1950's. I watched USAC growing up. Saw the INDY 500 as a teenager. Have been to races at Martinsville, Charlotte, DuQuoin, Atlanta.I have seen some real bad wreaks but nothing like NA$CAR did to Denny!!!


Well this only leads me to one conclusion ..for both parties to "save face" there was a little "Let's Make a Deal" going on behind closed hauler doors! Since Hamlin still says he's not paying the fine..and NASCAR says they can take the $$ from his winnings..we'll never know what the outcome really is. NASCAR put the announcement of the fine out to the public...but, I doubt we'll ever hear an announcement stating they've collected the fine....another Big Brother move. In my eyes this "non-conclusion" makes NASCAR even bigger mules behinds then the fine was to start with. I'm tired of NASCAR with their never ending supply of brooms ...you gotta know the rugs in the NASCAR hauler are just full of dirt that's been swept under them over the years!

Hamlin's Fine

You got it on this one Mike. The public will not know if NASCAR takes the money, or not. My question is "just how stupid does NASCAR think the fans are?" Do they really think that we can't see through phoney statements by drivers? Personally I didn't think Hamlin's remarks were out of line at all. Everyone knows the cars need more work. My only problem with that is why should I spend lots of money to go to races to witness "a work in progress?" This sport is well over 60 years old. Why do they have this compulsion to keep changing it.

I actually believe that NASCAR has reached the point of no return. Sure they got a bump from Patrick winning the pole at Daytona but that's over. They wanted a show and just like all shows after everyone has seen it interest fades. Now they are "trying to stop the bleeding".

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's all about perception. This case with Denny was another case where one driver said, or did, something and received the wrath of NASCAR while some others received nothing at all for the same offense. Like the controversies we are hearing now on restarts. Inconsistent calls and penalties are hurting the sport now more then ever. And the perception is that certain teams can get away with more then others. This alone kills fan confidence in the integrity of the sports officials. And when you perceive that the "fix" is on you go elsewhere. And evidently thousands of paying customers and two million tv watchers have left the sport because of "actions detrimental to stock car racing" we're made by NASCAR officials. The fine to Hamlin was another of those actions.

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The Fines...

You can tell the "Dipsticks of Daytona" that they have loss another 45yr fan. When a driver says no more than what Denny said and the "Dipsticks" make a big deal out of it's time to move on for me.

I think I'll just follow WOO this year and forget about the "Dipsticks of Daytona". Bill Jr at least had grounds for his fines.

Once loyal fan, gone...

NASCAR defusing the controversy?

NASCAR is moving "fast" to defuse the controversy? How do you figure that? It's already gone on for 2 weeks and the ship sailed in the court of public opinion on this topic.

If they wanted to defuse the situation, they'd have talked to Hamlin in private about his comments, rather than making a knee jerk action of fining him.

Even though Hamlin isn't going to go thru the appeals process, that doesn't mean that NASCAR isn't going to collect their fine OR that the drivers will offer any meaningful comment to the fans after the races.

So, the issue (which is two-fold - the car which IS a WIP, even if NASCAR would rather not admit that AND whether or not the fans can trust anything the drivers say).


For a brief moment there, I, and many others, I suspect, were Denny Hamlin fans. He almost manned up and actually stood for something. What a weasel. NASCAR is being run by idiots and the drivers are mostly wind up toys of corporate America, brave toys but still toys. Time to go watch something else.

crybaby hamlin

Denny is a cry baby; he should have points taken away as well. Oh, and if this makes u not wanna watch Nascar, good. don't. go watch a baseball game or something.

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