Denny Hamlin won't pay the $25,000 NASCAR fine he was issued for criticizing the quality of last week's race at Phoenix. He also declared that he will not speak about any competition-related issues.
Hamlin, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, commented that the new Gen 6 car doesn't race as well as the Gen 5 cars -- a critique that was, according to him, "not even a bad one!"
Denny was issued the fine on Thursday and doesn't appear to be backing down from his comments. He even added some additional context on Twitter.
The No. 11 driver wrote, "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."
Therefore, Denny Hamlin will appeal the fine. He has been fined in the past for tweets suggesting NASCAR was throwing phantom cautions. The statements, made in 2010, has caused him to be careful about the comments he makes to the news media.
In issuing the fine against Hamlin, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp explained that the driver's comments went beyond the limits of what the sanctioning body allows the drivers to say. Tharp added, "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."
Veteran driver Jeff Burton was not put off by the $25,000 fine issued to Denny Hamlin. Burton explained he will continue to speak his mind, because constructive criticism will help the sport. The No. 31 driver added that Hamlin's fine, to him, was "a little bit of [an] overreaction on NASCAR's part."
At the same time, Burton added that he understood why NASCAR fined Denny Hamlin. He applauded the sport for the "tremendous amount" of work that has gone into creating the new Gen 6 car. But not every driver was willing to comment on Hamlin's fine. Clint Bowyer refused to answer a question about the fine, though later quipped, "I'm going to go be happy and good."
Along with Burton, Hamlin also found support with former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. Petty, a third generation former driver, explained that drivers should be allowed to speak freely about the sport, even if it includes criticism.
While Denny Hamlin will appeal his fine, his vow not to pay may be concerning. Should the $25,000 fine stand, Hamlin would face suspension for his refusal to pay.