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By The Sports Xchange March 8, 2013 4:50 PM
Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin sounds defiant Thursday when he said he would refuse to pay a $25,000 NASCAR-imposed fine for his critical comments of the the new Gen 6 car. On Friday, the Joe Gibbs Racing team backed its driver. "We have spoken with NASCAR and will continue to keep an open dialogue with them on this matter," the team's statement read, "but we will keep those discussions between the parties involved. We will fully support Denny in his appeal process." Hamlin said after the race last week at Phoenix that it was difficult to pass other cars with the new model. NASCAR didn't like his comments, saying Hamlin crossed a line by condemning the product, and announced the fine during Thursday's practice for the Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me. I don't care at this point," an angry Hamlin said Thursday. A few hours later on Twitter, Hamlin said he would participate in the appeals process. "I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined," he tweeted. "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."