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« NASCAR Levies Fine Against Denny Hamlin for Comments Made After Phoenix | Main | Fans Overwhelmingly Support Hamlin in His Stance Against NASCAR »

NASCAR Looking Ridiculous While Allowing Denny Hamlin to Look Heroic

By admin | March 8, 2013

 Denny Hamlin is taking a stand against NASCAR.

By Richard Allen

During the Sprint Cup testing session at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, a story broke which revealed that driver Denny Hamlin had been fined $25,000 by NASCAR for essentially saying that the Gen-6 car did not race well in Phoenix last weekend

Specifically, Hamlin stated, “There’s a lot of room for improvement for this car. Obviously we saw a great finish. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna take a little while for us to get these cars driving as good as we had with the Generation-5,” to Fox Network reporters after the race in Phoenix.

The 2013 calendar year is not off to the greatest of starts from a public relations standpoint for NASCAR. While television ratings were up sharply for the Daytona 500 compared to a year ago, there have also been other situations which have garnered a great deal of negative attention. Pieces and parts of a car hitting spectators during the Nationwide Series event in Daytona, Jeremy Clements being disciplined for using a racial slur in front of a blogger from MTV and a NASCAR official, and the revamped run by NASCAR itself) not performing well during SpeedWeeks have all hurt the sport’s image and have combined to make the sport look less than its best early in the new season.

Now, a driver has been fined for a relatively benign remark that was regarded by many as truthful. For that matter, NASCAR’s own loop data revealed that there was more passing last year in Phoenix than this year.

But the story has taken an even more bizarre twist since the announcement of the fine. Hamlin declared on Thursday afternoon during the test session in Las Vegas that he has no intention of paying the fine.

Specifically, Hamlin released the following statement via Twitter explaining his position:

“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. What I said was 1 sentence taken completely out of context. Most drivers will tell you that we constantly have our AND nascars best interest in mind when speaking. On the other hand I am a person that worked very hard from the BOTTOM to get where I am today and someone telling me that I can give my 100 percent honest opinion really bothers me. 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. I feel as if today NASCAR lost one of its biggest supporters vocally of where our sport is headed. So 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.”

It seems as if both NASCAR and Hamlin have painted themselves into a corner over this. But one stands to come out much better, at least in the eyes of the fans, than the other when all is said and done.

NASCAR has issued a fine over a benign comment, and like the recent Jeremy Clements case, they have managed to turn a small incident into an overblown national story. But they are a sanctioning body and no matter how ugly the situation may get, they have to carry through or lose all credibility with the other competitors.

This situation reminds me of the book and television mini-series “Band of Brothers” when Captain Sobel issued an undeserved punishment to Lieutenant Winters just to show that he held authority over him. Winters then bucked and asked for trial by Courts Martial. Ultimately, it was the punishing party who came away looking like the loser.

NASCAR faces that same type scenario here. A movement on Twitter has already begun using the #IStandWithDenny hashtag. There is little chance the sanctioning body comes out of this looking good.

Hamlin, too, cannot back down from his stance. After declaring that he won’t pay the fine, he can’t pay the fine. However, by so doing, even if he gets suspended, he will come out of the situation with martyr-like status.

And further, he has an out that will likely wind up providing the ultimate resolution. Joe Gibbs Racing and its backers, FedEx and Toyota, are not going to like the idea of their driver being suspended. It would seem probable that one of those entities will eventually pay his fine for him and thus relieve him of his own claim.

In the end, NASCAR has once again fallen victim to its own misguided public relations efforts. The organization seems to always find a way to make itself look like it’s in the wrong. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin is coming off as a hero to those who have longed for someone to stand against the Daytona Beach based ruling body.



Topics: Articles |

24 Responses to “NASCAR Looking Ridiculous While Allowing Denny Hamlin to Look Heroic”

  1. Russ Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Nascar lost its credibility with objective observers years ago. Therefore they dont really stand to lose anything. In fact, one can argue that, like in the Daytona wreck, or the Clements situation, the curiosity factor may work in their favor.
    On the other hand Hamlin comes across as the victim here.

    In the end it just makes Nascar look petty, but does that matter anymore? Even to them?

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Just ran a poll on Twitter and the vote is an overwhelming 66-5 in favor of Hamlin not paying his fine, even it means suspension.

  3. Michael in SoCal Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Nascar screwed the pooch on this one big time! Denny’s statement was essentially that the Gen 6 cars are a work in progress, and will take some time to get better. That’s all he said, and it’s very true.

    I read on a different site about a Nascar boycott in support of Denny. Someone suggested Fontana. Not a bad place to start, if you ask me. Although I’d start with Las Vegas!

  4. Mark Philipps Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I agree with the comment above. NASCAR screwed the pooch!

  5. Dave the WAVE Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    This is beyond rediculous. I haven’t been to a Nascar race since 2007 Homestead. Went to 5 races that year. I hated the car of tomorrow. Nascar has taken the fun out of racing. I have more excitement at my local 1/4 track. This new gen 6 is better, but has a long way to go. And Nascar should just admit it rather than fining drivers that speak the truth. They admitted it when they sanctioned the “have at it” rule last year. Nascar you have turned every driver interview into a commerical for sponsors and Nascar. And you wonder why rating have been down year after year.

  6. Offkilter Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I read where nascar didn’t set a deadline on the fine payment and that the fine could be withheld from the 11 car’s purse in up-coming races. Kudos to denny for saying he wouldn’t pay, but there really is no standoff.

  7. Tony Geinzer Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    If it where the Bills France (Junior and Senior) they’d be speedy alka seltzer with IOUs. We are in an age where we don’t know where our favorite drivers are really in the races or weaving their own S & P 500. I would feel sick if Denny Hamlin tried to do the Ken Schrader tour all over Short Track USA and we don’t need more John Dalys and AIs because we all poorer for All American Athletes for All World Miseducation.

  8. Carl Watson Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Ah yes, the Brian France era NASCAR, where getting in front of a story now means shooting itself in the foot first, before anyone else can, because hey, it’s progressive right?

    What makes this whole story so hilarious is that what Denny said was so benign that pretty much every fan who heard it, silently nodded in agreement, and moved on, thinking nothing special of the comment. Instead, they have resurrected a story that in our short attention span world of today, would otherwise be dead already, and given it new life.

    Kind of like an idiot vampire, running around giving random blood transfusions to strangers because it doesn’t know what the hell its supposed to be doing.

    It’s just too bad that I cannot really enjoy laughing at this level of managerial incompetence because I’m also saddened by watching something I loved for so many decades degrade into…. well… THIS!

  9. Lydia Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Maybe we ALL have this scenario backwards! Could it be NASCAR is smarter then we think? Let’s face it..the racing has been boring for years…and in some sports circles has become a back marker. It rained yesterday..not much happening on the track…but fans were watching, waiting, listening, texting, tweeting, and calling in to the radio shows…all to talk about Hamlin’s fine! Yeah man…NASCAR is relevant they say…there’s no such thing as bad publicity…and thank goodness cause that’s about all NASCAR has going for itself lately!!!!

  10. john hickson Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 7:47 am

    call me delusional , but dont be surprised when Denny fails a drug test at some point this season. Ask jeremy mayfield what happens when you do go along with the status quo. Listen to Jeff Gordon going on and on spouting the company line….he knows the deal

  11. Offkilter Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Carl watson, funny stuff! You could get paid to do this.

  12. Tyler West Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I hate seeing what the sport is becoming. Allot of the shows they have about Nascar now revolve around ridiculous stories. It kills me, Trackside, Nascar Now, Raceday and so on talk very little about real racing, instead all they do is act like retards and make a damn joke of the sport I love. Now drivers are considered great before ever doing anything (like that tramp Danica and some others). It’s becomming more about BS stories instead of hardnosed racing and it sucks.

  13. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 8:28 am

    What I’ve found totally ironic is that for the past couple years they have seeded the entire Nascar organization with “PR Experts”…. and THIS is the best they can come up with???

  14. doug price Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 8:56 am

    kind of funny everytime Nascar fines somebody wheather it’s a driver, crew chief, etc, its always the same rule violation. Rule book must been pretty thin. They have much more to worry about with the lawsuits on the way. You know they will try to keep a lid on that.

  15. Jesse Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Don’t worry loyal Denny and Toyota fans Toyota will pay under the table and this will all go away. You see now on Speed they are really worried about the Toyota engine and how they will fix it. The company is getting so much media coverage now it’s unreal.

  16. Ron D Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Quietly, behind the scene, NASCAR will encourage Hamlin to go through the appeals process. Nascar will make sure Hamlin is exonerated in the appeal. No fine will be paid. No sponsorship money will be at risk. NASCAR will suffer minimal damage.

  17. zhills fan Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 10:13 am

    NASCAR’S credibility is shot. Let’s go back to real stock car racing and get rid of NASCAR. It can be done with a new series with real stock cars.

  18. MI Mike Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 10:30 am

    What was NASCAR thinking? I watched this interview and seen absolutley nothing detiremental to racing or anything else. Hamlin in my humble opinion merely stated a fact he percieved to be true. I guess from now on during an interview all drivers will get on their knees bow to the powers to be and lie thru their teeth declaring gen 6 the best car ever developed by the world greatest engineers. Why would a driver even think of suggesting it might need improvement with NASCAR and all its brilliance surrounded by those whom never make mistakes. One more thing all the talking heads DW and cohorts that think this fine was justified perhaps if your job wasnt on the line you might see it differently. I would like to see a poll of the fans and see what they think….but why would that matter to NASCAR?

  19. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    There is one point that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Nascar writers level of believability. Or, which writers are reporters and journalists and which are merely Nascar ‘Lackies’.

    Will anyone actually look to for any credible reporting?

    Just one example but it doesn’t take much of a look to see who is and who isn’t in Nascar’s back pocket.

  20. Richard Allen Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    @ Sue Rarick

    I could easily be bought off if they’d just ask. LOL

  21. Kurt Fan Forever Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    NASCAN’T is all that needs to be said. Brian France has destroyed NASCAR.

  22. b Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Sad state of affairs. The Nascrap shills will be defending them against Denny tomorrow, no prerace for me. It always bad with DW drooling over Nascar, Junebug and Sparkle Pony. I am not a fan of Denny by any means, I think is is an entitled jerk, but the fact is the guy did nothing wrong, not a thing. And for the record we don’t need Denny to tell us what we are seeing, so far bad racing! Boring etc…nothing new. Nascrap is stupid.

  23. GinaV24 Says:
    March 9th, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Nascar had to have credibility to lose it with this particular farce. I don’t know that many fans believe any thing that NASCAR says now. I certainly don’t take anything the drivers say as anything but the politically correct answer. I trust my own judgement about the racing these days and that is that for the past 6 or 7 yrs it has been pretty dismal and boring. I had a little bit of hope for the new car but based on the “racing” we’ve seen so far, it will be quite a while before there’s much improvement over the follow the leader and fuel mileage races of the past years.

    DW wants us all to be patient. Sorry, DW, you and the rest of the paid shills should know that I don’t believe anything YOU say either and I’ve run out of patience.

    Funny how the trucks put on a good race and it looks to me as if the Nationwide cars can run side by side and pass - of course that could just be the cup drivers racing against less well funded teams. NASCAR not only needs someone who actually understands how to do public relations, they need better engineers and designers since between the COT and the Gen6 car, it’s been a total failure.

    I’m not a Denny fan here, but his comment seemed reasonable. I quit watching the pre-race garbage several years ago, so I won’t be missing all the paid shills trying to make the fans believe that NASCAR is right and Denny is wrong.

  24. nayls Says:
    March 10th, 2013 at 8:50 am