Denny Hamlin isn't going to pay the $25,000 fine he owes NASCAR for recent comments made about the performance of the new Sprint Cup Series car. And he isn't going to appeal the penalty, either.
NASCAR announced on Thursday that it would collect the amount of the fine through Hamlin's winnings, while the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said he will not follow through on an intention to appeal which he voiced last week.
"After a lot of thought I have decided not to appeal the fine NASCAR has issued," Hamlin wrote on Twitter. "Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for the next 2 weeks would not be good for anyone. I firmly believe I am in the right on this issue and will stand behind my decision not to pay. I understand NASCAR will do what they feel is necessary based on my decision. Thanks to all of my fans and peers who have supported me in this decision. I look forward to putting it to rest."
NASCAR fined Hamlin last Thursday. The driver initially threatened to not pay the fine, and then said he would appeal it through the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. NASCAR will instead collect the amount through Section 12-3 of the Sprint Cup rule book, which allows the league to deduct fines from purse or point find winnings. Hamlin earned $125,780 for his 15th-place finish Sunday at Las Vegas, and has collected $614,064 through the first three events of this season.
"NASCAR considers this matter closed," the sanctioning body said in a statement.
The penalty stems from remarks Hamlin made about the new Generation-6 car following the March 3 race at Phoenix, the second event featuring a redesigned and more brand-identifiable vehicle which debuts at a short track this weekend in Bristol. Hamlin said he was penalized specifically for remarks he made comparing the performance of the new car to its predecessor.
"I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation-5 cars," Hamlin said on pit road after the Phoenix event. "This is more like what the Generation-5 was at the beginning. The teams hadn't figured out how to get the aero balance right. Right now, you just run single-file and you cannot get around the guy in front of you."
NASCAR's fifth-generation vehicle -- better known as the Car of Tomorrow -- struggled to gain acceptance among fans and drivers for reasons related to performance as well as aesthetics. The new car is designed to enhance competition, as well as strengthen the link between the race track and each manufacturer's showroom.
To NASCAR, Hamlin's remarks were out of bounds. Four days later it responded with a penalty, citing Section 12-1 of the rule book, which forbids actions detrimental to stock-car racing. "We give (drivers) quite a bit of latitude, but you can't slam your racing, you can't slam your product," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "That's where it crosses a line."
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-- Denny Hamlin on his decision not to appeal, via Twitter