“In hindsight, I really believe they overreacted, and I believe they think they overreacted once they thought about it a little bit," Hamlin added. "Just to slap the fine on me and not tell me anything is what really, really bugged me a lot.
"That felt like I had not earned my place in this sport, and I've grinded it out here for eight years, and I really feel like I've done what it takes to earn the respect of both my peers and NASCAR, and I felt like if I had been somebody else the outcome may have been different," he continued, his seething frustration over the situation still clearly evident.
But in the end, Hamlin didn't want the row hanging over his 2013 season and distracting him and his team from their championship campaign.
"What was the point in going another week or so?” Hamlin shrugged. “We've got bigger to fish to fry than to argue over what I said just for $25,000. It's better to move on and let NASCAR get its credibility back. They're going to do that, and I'm going to move on."
Clements back after suspension
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements will be back on the starting grid this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, after being suspended over using a racial epithet in an interview with a reporter at Daytona International Speedway.
Clements had to complete a session of racial insensitivity counselling with Dr. Richard Lapchick, the director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, before being eligible for reinstatement.
"We're pleased that Jeremy has taken these important steps and will return to racing starting this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway," said NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell.
Clements was suspended under NASCAR rules prohibiting any 'public statement' that criticises, ridicules or otherwise disparages another person based on race, colour, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicapping condition.
“I want to start out by saying I made a remark that has no place in our society, kidding or not," said Clements on Friday. "I want to apologise to NASCAR, the reporter, my team, my family, my sponsors and of course all the fans out there. I didn't mean to offend anybody at all. I'm sorry I let you all down.
"It has been a challenging time for me," he added. "I want to grow from it and help other people from it. Any time a race car driver gets sat out any amount of time it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. I don't want to watch anybody drive your car when you are supposed to be in it driving."
Clements did lose one sponsor from the family-owner #51 car as a result of the controversy and suspension.