8 March 2013
Hamlin fumes over $25,000 fine for Gen 6 remarks
However, he had gone on to say it was down to the teams to get over the teething problems with the new car. "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," he had said. "You would have placed me in 20th-place with 30 to go, I would have stayed there, I wouldn't have moved up. It's just one of those things where track position is everything."
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said such talk went beyond the limits of what drivers are permitted to say in criticism of the series.
"You can voice your opinion about a lot of things about this sport, and we feel like we give our competitors a great deal of leeway when it comes to that, [but] denigrating the racing is an area we're going to have a reaction to," he told reporters.
"The main area of focus here we take exception to is the product, the racing," he added. "That's our brand, that's the drivers' brand, that's the sport's brand and that's an area we feel very strongly about."
“We give them quite a bit of latitude, but you can't slam the racing,” echoed NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. “You can't slam the product. That's where it crosses a line.
“You're making a mistake if you comment on the worst or the greatest racing ever," Pemberton had added, pointing out that it was still very early days for the new Generation 6 car. "The first part of the season, we run on so many different racetracks, and we're so busy. ... Positive or negative, you cannot read too much into any of this stuff."
But the concern is that the fine imposed on Hamlin this week may have a chilling effect on what drivers will and won't say to the media at events in future, as Hamlin himself was quick to point out.
“I'm not going to say anything for the rest of the year, as long as it relates to competition,” he said. “I mean, you can ask me how my daughter is, talk to me after wins about what have you, but as long as it relates to competition, I'm out from here on out.
"The down part is I feel like I've been a pretty good spokesman for them," he added. "Being positive when things aren't always positive. They just lost one small spokesman today, that's all."
Hamlin later issued a short formal statement about the situation.
"The short of the long of it is I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined. I believe that the simple fact of us not even having a conversation about this issue before I was hit with a fine has something to say about our relationship," he said.
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