July 30, 2010
During his media session on Friday, Denny Hamlin gave some reasons for why he thinks he got secretly fined by NASCAR. Hamlin said that it wasn't the comments at Michigan, but surmised that it was what he said on his Twitter account.
"I don't really know what it was … more than likely, it was the Twitter comments that kind of got me in trouble with them. I guess, Chicago weekend, talking about some of the Nationwide stuff, but most of those conversations were all direct messages to one person. It wasn't really sent out to all the followers. So I understand it, but whether you agree with it or not, we've all got to work together and make the sport better."
Hamlin said that he didn't understand why the fine was secret, but wouldn't say how much the fine was.
"That, I don't know. Without getting into word-for-word, what I asked was, 'What was the point of fining me if you're not going to tell anyone?' And they said, 'Well, hopefully it'll keep anyone from badmouthing us.' Well, no one knows! For the young guys maybe coming up, if you say, 'Hey, you fined Denny Hamlin X amount of dollars for saying this,' I think you’ll have people in the future say, 'Alright, I need to steer away from those comments.' So I think in the future, all this coming out is a positive thing. It really is. It's going to turn into a good thing. Even though they may not have wanted everyone to know, now that they do, it happened for a reason. It's going to make our sport better."
Hamlin also admitted that he didn't know where the line was and that he was also unsure of whether or not he would change what he would say in the future based off of the fine.
"Ummm … it's tough to say. I don't want to lose anymore money, but I just want to be myself. That's all I can say, and that's what I've told them over and over. And I've said, 'What if I don't agree with something? What do you want me to say? Do you want me to lie, and tell something that I don't really, truly believe in, because I've never been brought up to do that?' And they said no, but there's different ways to do it … And we got to talking about that, and in the end I did see that."
"I think you will still see it, just in a little more toned-down fashion.
"We've seen, the last two years, the increased fan involvement in NASCAR answering to what the fans want. And now, with this being secret … in talking to them this week, they were upset it was secret. They felt NASCAR was keeping things from them. How do you fix that? Do you think they lost something there by trying to keep it secret? Should they have just come right out and said, 'This is who we fined, this is how much we fined them, and this is what we fined them for.'
"In my opinion, I'm not bashing anyone, but I would have for sure said, 'This person's getting penalized' to keep it from happening again. If nobody knows, nobody's going to learn from the mistakes of others. That's one thing this sport is all about is learning from someone else's mistake. So for sure, in my opinion I feel like it should have been let out. But this garage is a very small family, and it'll get around anyway. So I think people were going to find out one way or another."
Hopefully for fans' sake, these fines don't deter drivers from speaking their minds on important issues. While NASCAR's reasons for fining drivers are understandable — albeit murky — it would help immensely if we were able to find out where the line was fairly soon so we know what to expect going forward.
UPDATE: SBNation's Jeff Gluck had a discussion with Hamlin on Twitter on Friday, July 9 about debris cautions, and that discussion could be what landed Hamlin in hot water with NASCAR.
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