After finding out he was being fined by NASCAR, Denny Hamlin said he will not pay the $25,000 assessed to him by NASCAR for his comments following last Sunday’s Sprint Cup Race at Phoenix International Raceway.
“This is the most upset and angry I’ve been in a long, long time about anything that relates to NASCAR,” said Hamlin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me. I don’t care at this point.”
Hamlin’s comments that NASCAR fined him for were critical of the new “Gen-6” racecar which Hamlin said didn’t race as well as the previous Gen-5 version.
“You can’t slam your racing. You can’t slam your product. That’s where it crosses the line.,” said NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton.
“It’s more of a matter of fact that you can’t criticize your core product. Constructive criticism is one thing.”
Hamlin wasn’t the only driver to voice his opinions about the new car’s performance Sunday at Phoenix, however NASCAR viewed his comments as “crossing the line”.
“There were different statements made that are damaging. We won’t tolerate those type of things,” said Pemberton.
According to the NASCAR rule book, Hamlin would face further punishment if he doesn’t pay the fine promptly. However, it doesn’t appear as though that will happen.
Pemberton stated that just like any other penalty, Hamlin has the right to appeal the penalty in the same process in which any other penalty would be handled by the sanctioning body.
At the time, there is no official word as to when or if Hamlin will appeal the fine.
“I have to be careful because I don’t want to make things worse than they already are,” said Hamlin.
“This was something that was absolutely nothing and got blown into something, and it’s just going to be worse for [NASCAR].”
This isn’t the first time Hamlin and NASCAR have had conflict when it comes to comments. Following the June,2010 race at Michigan International Speedway—a race that he won—, Hamlin made comments on Twitter about NASCAR throwing “phantom debris” in order to make the endings to races more interesting.
“I’m not going to say anything for the rest of the year as long as it relates to competition,” said Hamlin. “”You can ask how my daughter is and talk to me after wins, but as long as it relates to competition, I’m out.”
Hamlin is set to race in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.