Friday, March 15, 2013

COMMENTARY: NASCAR, Hamlin Wise To Stand Down

Hamlin: Back to work.
Denny Hamlin said yesterday that he will not pay the $25,000 fine assessed by NASCAR for comments critical of the sanctioning body’s new Gen-6 race car. NASCAR immediately implemented a clause in their Sprint Cup Series rule book that allows them to deduct the fine from Hamlin’s race winnings this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

That’s a win-win deal, for both sides.

“Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next two weeks would not be good for anyone,” wrote Hamlin Thursday, and on that count, he is most certainly correct. As contenders for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, he and his Joe Gibbs Racing/Fed Ex Toyota team must have one focus, and only one. Anything that distracts from their on-track performance must come off the table immediately, and stay off.
Defending series champion Brad Keselowski lives and breathes stock car racing, 24 hours a day. Five-time titlist Jimmie Johnson is also fully focused on the job at hand, and is seldom – if ever –swept up in off-track distractions. They will not be defeated by a team embroiled in controversy and off-track tumult, and Hamlin knows it.
NASCAR also has nothing to gain by extending this debate. Already judged thin-skinned and over-reactive in the court of public opinion, the sanctioning body is best-served by putting this debate behind them and continuing to develop their new race car. Hamlin’s negative comments may have damaged that effort, but NASCAR’s reaction compounded the damage exponentially.
The 2013 Sprint Cup Series rulebook allows NASCAR to suspend Hamlin pending payment of the fine; a move that would eliminate a perennial contender from the title race before the season is a month old. The sanctioning body wisely passed on that option, choosing instead to invoke Section 12-3 of the Sprint Cup Series rule book, which allows them to deduct unpaid penalties from the driver’s purse or point fund earnings.
Hamlin saves face and remains true to his vow not to pay the fine, per se.
NASCAR sends the desired message that trash-talking its new race car will not be tolerated, without having to park one of its brightest stars.
Mission accomplished, for all parties.
Photo: LAT Photographic/York


  1. Alas, if NASCAR deducts the $25,000 from Hamlin's winnings then NASCAR does win and Hamlin does lose.

    In the end he has to pay that stupid fine, like it or not. Just because he didn't actually write the check doesn't mean he didn't pay it.

    The deduction brings up another point: if NASCAR simply deducts the fine from his winnings in an effort to "close the matter" does NASCAR take that $25,000 and deposit it into the NASCAR charities program like the other fines???

    1. Yes they do. All revenues generated by fines/penalties goes directly to the NASCAR Foundation.

    2. Yes, that's where all fines go. It's the only saving grace of idiotic fines.

  2. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Hopefully Denny chose's his words more caefully..."I Will not pay the fine" ...Dumb Earner

  3. Let's see, Hamlin earns prize money, Brian France keeps it. Not even close to a win-win, unless you're the li'l pup suckin' on NASCAR's hind teet for a paycheck. I say let NASCAR grab Hamlin's cash, let Hamlin prevail in the appeal, and let NASCAR re-pay Hamlin the 25 large PLUS legal interest. And by the by, NASCAR will always come out the loser after France made this bonehead fine decision!

    1. Jim, read the story again. There will be no appeal.

    2. Anonymous6:24 PM

      There will also be no appeal of the public's opinion of NASCAR. Denny said nothing warranting a fine, but NASCAR made a knee-jerk, bone-head, macho-based decision that will stick in the craws of fans like me for a long, long time.

    3. Joe (Anonymous), we do not call people -- drivers, officials or each other -- names around here. Please follow the rules from this point forward, or your comments will not be posted.

    4. Anonymous9:37 AM

      I did not intend to call anyone names. My intent was to point out the very unlikeable position NASCAR put themselves into by issuing this unreasonable fine. My appologies if I ruffled anyones feathers.

  4. When facing criticism after Daytona injuries and potential lawsuits, divert toward the drivers, enter Clements and Hamlin. Change the focus, its BRISTOL, everybody be happy!

  5. Anonymous3:16 AM

    This year was the first year that ive miss the daytona 500, really loosing interest in the sport if its hendrick its alwright. Now i am getting the big picture hendrick motor sport worth 350 millions.