NASCAR » 8 March 2013
Hamlin fumes over $25,000 fine for Gen 6 remarks
"Since being fined in 2010 I have been a lot more careful about what I say to media and I felt this past weekend felt completely in my rights to give a assessment of the question asked," he continued. "In the end there are no winners. I said today I would not pay the fine. I stand by that and will go through the process of appealing. Trust me, this is not about the money. It's much deeper. I will now shift my focus on giving FedEx and my team what they deserve this weekend, a win."
Other drivers were being careful not to get caught up in the row, although Richard Childress Racing star Jeff Burton commented that "NASCAR has got to be careful not to be too strict on drivers" and suggested that the fine was "a little bit of an overreaction on NASCAR's part."
After topping the Thursday practice times in Las Vegas, Greg Biffle found a more arch way of communicating his view on the Hamlin fine when asked for his view on the Generation 6 car's handling earlier in the day.
"It's good. Car is good. Everything is very, very good," he said. "Can I leave now? I'm going to go be happy and good."
Those outside the immediate NASCAR sphere of influence could afford to be more outspoken about the situation.
"Just because it's NASCAR's ball and their ballpark and they make the rules doesn't necessarily mean that there can be censorship, and there appears to be a lot of censorship in this fine," said Kyle Petty, the former Cup driver and now analyst for the SPEED cable channel. "NASCAR wants drivers to have personalities and character and to express themselves but only if they say positive and not negative things. I don't know anyone who can do that.
"It's hard to believe that this sport has come to this where we fine drivers for comments," he added. "Whatever happened to fining drivers for big motors and illegal bodies and cheating on the track? Now it appears they don't have a right to have an opinion off the race track.
"I could not survive in this sport as a driver at this time," Petty admitted. "I'd be paying a fine every week. I'd be broke."
After winning the Phoenix race, Carl Edwards had also expressed frustration with the current state of the cars, but framed his comments in a way that was apparently more constructive than Hamlin had in NASCAR's eyes.
"After the Vegas race you are going to have all of the opinions you want on that subject because that's gonna be the first race where we see huge speeds, huge reliance on downforce, and I think that we're really gonna know where we stand after that," the Phoenix race winner had said in a teleconference on Wednesday.
"Whenever this subject has come up with NASCAR, with the media, with my team, I am 100 percent for taking all of the downforce away from the race cars and just racing mechanical grip and if you have maybe a couple of stagger options for the tires to help gauge your balance, and that would be something Goodyear would have to produce, that's been my take forever just because I really enjoy the mechanical grip aspect of the racing," he had explained.
"At all of this testing NASCAR has run cars with tons of downforce then a little bit of downforce and this is the package they came up with, so what our job to do as drivers and teams is to go out and tune these cars the best we can and see how they work," he continued. "NASCAR told us after Vegas and a couple of these fast races early in the season, we would kind of take a look at where we stand and there still might be more changes coming, so I think it's a moving target and it will really be up to all of us to decide what we want."
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