NASCAR CEO Brian France met with the media on Saturday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was asked if NASCAR had learned anything in the wake of the discussion surrounding the sanctioning body's decision to fine Denny Hamlin after the Phoenix race.
As you have undoubtedly read numerous times before, Hamlin said "I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation 5 cars."
"This is more like what the Generation 5 was at the beginning," he continued. "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. You would have placed me in 20th-place with 30 (laps) to go, I would have stayed there — I wouldn't have moved up. It's just one of those things where track position is everything."
Hamlin, who is on the pole for Sunday night's race, was fined $25,000 days later, as NASCAR said his comments denigrated the racing product. Did NASCAR learn anything from the reaction -- reaction mostly against it? No, says France.
"We didn't learn anything," France said. Our policy is our policy. You can say rowdy things. You can say things that we don't like at all. You can criticize us, and it happens quite a bit. As I've said, that policy goes further than any other sport, major sport, in this country. What you can't do is you can't cross a line into the product, in any way talking about our racing product. We're very clear."
He continued: "Let me tell you, I can't tell you how many drivers came up to me after the Denny Hamlin comment and said, You got to do that or we won't be able to help ourselves from time to time, I'm glad you did that. They all know the line. They all know exactly where it is, because we talk about it. I talk about it directly with every one of the drivers, every one of the owners. No disputing that."
"But it shouldn't be confused, and it never should have been confused, as a policy to stifle the drivers' personalities. It's quite the opposite. We want them to have emotion, even if we don't like to hear it, one thing or another. That's the emotional part of sports and NASCAR that we would never want to take away from."
The news that other drivers came up to France in support of NASCAR's decision was apparently a new one to Hamlin. He disagreed Saturday afternoon on Twitter.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) May 25, 2013
It would seem that Hamlin would have a good idea of his support inside the garage area, though there's obviously a difference of opinion between he and France.
You'll note that NASCAR's policy, is different than that of many other major sports. In stick and ball leagues, you criticize the officiating, you get fined. If you say it was a bad game, no harm no foul. And by France's statement above, Ryan Newman must have known exactly where the line was when he made his critical comments following crashing at Talladega. He wasn't fined.
And the same will go for Hamlin's tweet. Though if he had said the car's nose was growing, it'd be a different story.