Freedom of speech sometimes doesn't go over well in the world of sports. Just ask one of NASCAR's brightest stars about that as he finds himself in hot water over a recent statement.|
Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin had some harsh words for the new Gen6 race cars after last weekend's race at Phoenix International Speedway. Those comments landed him a $25,000 fine on Thursday for violating a NASCAR rule which forbids actions detrimental to stock-car racing.
"We got a lot of work to do to get these cars to pass each other,'' Hamlin said after finishing third in that race. "Aero tight is a huge, huge deal and these tires are so hard and the surface is new. It'll be interesting once we get to a track where there will be a little more tire wear. You can run an entire race on left side tires and it's not supposed to be that way.
"We definitely over-achieved today, but that's what you got to do when your car isn't all that good."
Hamlin said he will not pay the fine, even if that results inNASCAR suspending him. I'm on Hamlin's side for this one. What did he say that was so bad to get him into hot water with NASCAR? What he said wasn't asbad what Kyle Busch had to sayafter his win at Bristol in the spring of2007, the first Car of Tomorrow race.
"I'm not a very big fan of these things. I can't stand to drive them," Busch said in that post-race interview.
Those remarks never resulted in a fine or suspension.
Honestly, I thinkHamlin was right with what hehad to say. The racing this season hasn't lived up to expectations through two races. I truly believe he was doing NASCAR a favor by showing that he cares about the product.
The new cars were designed for moreside-by-side racing andwe've seen very little of that so far. Hamlin was clearly stating what everybody -- from fans to drivers -- was thinking.
If NASCAR decides to suspend Hamlin, the competition level will definitely drop. And right now, that's the last thing the sport needs.
Anthony Sandoval can be reached via twitter at @ASandoval_DA or by email at email@example.com