BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Denny Hamlin contends he was not angry that NASCAR fined him $25,000 for comments he made earlier this month.
Hamlin was angry, he said, because he felt he had been treated as less than equal to many of those he competes against on a weekly basis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"That was the biggest complaint I had was that if I was Jeff Gordon, Tony (Stewart), Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. or any Hendrick (Motorsports) driver -- let's just say that -- they would have had a conversation with me before (taking any action)," Hamlin said March 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Just to slap the fine on me and not tell me anything is what really, really bugged me a lot."
Hamlin, 32, was fined for remarks he made following the March 3 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. While officials didn't identify the specific comments when announcing the fine, Hamlin's assessment of the new Generation-6 car was thought to be the issue. The Phoenix race was the second of the season in the new car, and it has been hoped that the new vehicle would lead to increased competition for the 36-race series.
"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," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said, "and I felt like if I had been somebody else the outcome may have been different."
Hamlin initially said he would not pay the fine, but later noted that the fine could be appealed. However, on March 14 he announced via his personal Twitter account that he would not file an appeal.
NASCAR subsequently issued a statement which explained that the fine would "be settled per Section 12-3 of the ? rule book," indicating the $25,000 would be taken from Hamlin's winnings.
Hamlin, who said he met with NASCAR CEO Brian France to discuss the matter, said he dropped his plans for the appeal because he felt there was nothing left to prove.
"I think we won in the (judgment) of the people and their opinion," he said. "Some of the peers of mine, at least the ones that have a backbone (and) have the nerve to stick up for that they know is right and wrong, agreed.
"But what was the point in going another week or so?"
Public perception of the Car of Tomorrow, which debuted in 2007, got off to a rocky start when Kyle Busch, the first driver to win in the car, bashed the new piece in Victory Lane.
"They were just very, very sensitive about this car," Hamlin said. "This is their baby."
Hamlin, a winner of 22 Sprint Cup races, contends that he likes the new car and that it is an improvement over the previous model.
"I was more frustrated with the tire that we were on than anything," he said. "That's the part that frustrated me, that it put me on an island feeling like I was bashing the race car which was definitely not how I felt."
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