Denny Hamlin has opted to back down in the row over the $25,000 penalty fine that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver received for comments perceived as critical of the new Generation-6 Sprint Cup stock car.
"After a lot of thought I have decided not to appeal the fine NASCAR has issued," said Hamlin in a team statement. "Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next 2 weeks would not be good for anyone."
But that didn't mean he was admitting to having been in the wrong, of conceding that the penalty has been justified - just that there was little chance of winning an appeal over a fine issued on such subjective grounds.
"I firmly believe I am in the right on this issue and will stand behind my decision not to pay. I understand NASCAR will do what they feel is necessary based on my decision. Thanks to all of my fans and peers who have supported me in this decision. I look forward to putting it to rest."
Although Hamlin said that he would not pay the fine, NASCAR responded with a statement implying - if not saying outright - that they would simply take the money from future prize money owed to him.
"NASCAR announced today that the $25,000 fine assessed to driver Denny Hamlin on March 7 will be settled per Section 12-3 of the 2013 NASCAR rule book," the sanctioning body said in a statement after learning Hamlin would not appeal. "Hamlin was fined after the sanctioning body determined he had violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing). NASCAR considers this matter closed."
Hamlin received the fine for comments he made following the Cup race at Phoenix two week ago. "I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Gen-5 cars," Hamlin had told the media. "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."
Speaking on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway after a meeting with NASCAR chairman Brian France, Hamlin explained why being slapped with the fine had incensed him to the degree that it had.
"What I was most frustrated with is it's not even the opinion I have. I like the car. I think the car is better. That's me giving you 100 per cent honest truth," he said.