NASCAR fined Denny Hamlin $25,000 on Thursday for remarks he made following last Sunday’s event at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had criticized the quality of racing with the new Gen-6 cars. The sanctioning body decided that Hamlin violated Section 12-1 of the NASCAR rule book, which forbids actions detrimental to stock-car racing.
“While NASCAR gives its competitors ample leeway in voicing their opinions when it comes to a wide range of aspects about the sport, the sanctioning body will not tolerate publicly made comments by its drivers that denigrate the racing product,” NASCAR said in a statement.
Hamlin’s reaction came quickly, with the driver expressing his anger with the penalty. “This is the most upset and angry I’ve been in a really, really long time about anything. Anything that relates to NASCAR. 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 was quoted as saying by NASCAR.com.
Asked which comment upset NASCAR, Hamlin said it was remarks he made comparing the redesigned Generation-6 car to its more polarizing predecessor. “I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation-5 cars. This is more like what the Generation-5 was at the beginning. The teams hadn’t figured out how to get the aero balance right. Right now, you just run single-file and you cannot get around the guy in front of you,” Hamlin said last Sunday.