Friday, March 8, 2013

Good for Hamlin refusing to pay NASCAR fine

Good for Denny Hamlin, who has vowed not to pay a $25,000 fine levied by NASCAR for simply speaking his mind about the quality of racing (or lack thereof) last Sunday at Phoenix.

NASCAR has a tendency to want to play "Big Brother," and here it goes again with a fine that sounds straight out of George Orwell's "1984" novel. Hamlin's comments about the new "Generation 6" car were so mild that when I first read them I skipped right over them. But now NASCAR has a PR problem on its hands of its own making, drawing a silly line in the sand and daring Hamlin to cross it.

So he has, vowing Thursday: "I'm not going to pay that fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me. I don't care at this point. It's an opinion, and it's not even a bad one."

This would be analogous to an NFL player saying he didn't like the rules protecting quarterbacks or the rule change in which the kickoff was moved up and touchbacks thus increased. Have you ever heard something like that before? Of course you have, and the NFL doesn't fine people for it.

Look, I understand that freedom of speech isn't absolutely unlimited. If a driver unleashes a string of vicious curse words on live TV, or if someone used a racist term while being interviewed, that's worthy of a fine. That clearly hurts the sport. Many pro sports do have rules saying you can't criticize the officials' calls publicly or you will risk a fine, and that's OK, too -- that undermines the sport.

But NASCAR is now suffering from a self-inflicted wound. To back up for a second, here's what Hamlin said Sunday when talking about the difficulty of passing: "We learned a lot. 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. 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."

Sounds pretty tame to me. But NASCAR, in announcing the fine, said Hamlin's comments denigrated the racing product, saying in part in its statement: "Denny Hamlin made some disparaging remarks about the on-track racing.... While NASCAR gives its competitors ample leeway in voicing their opinions when it comes to a wide range of aspects about the sport, the sanctioning body will not tolerate publicly made comments by its drivers that denigrate the racing product."

Oh, c'mon. Someone needs to go to hypersensitivity training.

This could have easily been handled by NASCAR quietly pulling Hamlin aside, asking him to be a little more careful about what he says, and otherwise leaving it alone. Instead, NASCAR is trying to publicly embarrass Hamlin, calling him up in front of class and having him stick his nose in a circle drawn on the chalkboard while NASCAR Nation (and the other drivers, in particular) watch closely.

Hamlin is not having any of it.

And I don't blame him one bit.


TBA_TBA said...

Nascar who? This entertainment is as relevant as Pro wrestling. Real Sports have rule books that aren't kept secret or fines for that matter. Reality TV makes up the rules as it goes.

John said...

Two comments:

#1 is addressed to TBA_TBA. I laugh at you! Nothing dumber than people who bother to read and article, then bother to post on the article that they couldn't care less. Obviously, you cared enough to bother to read so the rest of your comment becomes nonsense!

#2 and this one is addressed to NASCAR. Do you really think Hamlin said anything the rest of us didn't already notice on the track? Geez... all he really said is that it's a learning curve and they aren't there yet!

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Clements and Denny Hamlin are being made martyrs to take attention away from what happened in the Nationwide race at Daytona. I saw Robin Pemberton sitting and talking straight-faced about Hamlin "slamming the product". NA$CAR has been hanging around too many MBAs. It shows in their ratings.

Anonymous said...

Nascar Racing is getting worse all the time, the fans are leaving and Hamlin says how he feels and gets fined? That will keep the fans tuning in. Just another reason not to watch. Can you say Dictatorship.

blockhead1 said...

NASCAR seems determined to kill racing. The organization once had to play by rules.For example, a car had to be homologated (minimum numbers - usually 500 - produced and sold to the public before it was deemed "stock," and allowed to race) and various other regulations by international sanctioning bodies met. Now, the France family has declared itself supreme, like the Pope, infallible and accountable to no one. They are crude, Banana Republic dictators, tyrants. There is no longer real competition - only staging and NASCAR's competition engineering, capricious rule changes, invisible "debris on the track" and so on. Its abandonment of any semblance of stock cars has led to speeds that ultimately will see a car in the grandstands, dozens or hundreds killed, and the banning of racing. Curiously, fans don't care about speed - they care about racing. If any of you have been to short track races, you know that 1/2 mile tracks like Martinsville actually seem faster than Daytona and Talledaga, because you're closer, lap times are quicker and so on. It's time for NASCAR to bite the dust.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR said "Denny Hamlin made some disparaging remarks about the on-track racing"

What on track racing?

Anonymous said...

This is why Nascar is losing fans.Nascar's dictatorship is chasing a lot of fans away and they have nobody to blame themself.

Anonymous said...

as usual, the so called fans whine endlessly about everything to do with nascar racing.
obviously you folks have spent way too much time watching the springer show.
did your mommie get tired of you coming home mad every day?
your mom: son why did you come home so soon
you: wahhhhhh i told'em, i'm gonna take my ball and my bat and go home if i don't get my way.
grow up or go be a bobcats fan.
you deserve them.

Anonymous said...

NA$CAR Is chasing Fans and Sponsors away by the Thousands Silly Idiots

Anonymous said...

little danny made 125k sunday afternoon
good idea...
and get suspended