Hamlin’s Statement

The short of the long of it is I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined. 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. What I said was 1 sentence taken completely out of context. Most drivers will tell you that we constantly have our AND nascars best interest in mind when speaking. On the other hand I am a person that worked very hard from the BOTTOM to get where I am today and someone telling me that I can[‘t] give my 100 percent honest opinion really bothers me. Since being fined in 2010 I have been a lot more careful about what I say to media and I felt this past weekend felt completely in my rights to give a assessment of the question asked. I feel as if today NASCAR lost one of its biggest supporters vocally of where our sport is headed. So in the end there are no winners. I said today I would not pay the fine. I stand by that and will go through the process of appealing. Trust me, this is not about the money.. It’s much deeper. I will now shift my focus on giving FedEx and my team what they deserve this weekend, a win.

I’d like to see what NASCAR will do now. Will they actually suspend Hamlin to save face? Will the appeal work? NASCAR has dug themselves into a hole with this one.

Hamlin should fly the elusive double bird and say “React to this”. Maybe he already has.

NASCAR Spokesholes

NASCAR has fined Denny Hamlin $25,000 for “actions detrimental to stock-car racing.”

What comments were these?

“I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation-5 cars,” Hamlin said. “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.”

That seems to be pretty tame. But Robin Pemberton, VP of competition, said:

“We give (drivers) quite a bit of latitude, but you can’t slam your racing, you can’t slam your product,” Pemberton said. “That’s where it crosses a line.”

Please. NASCAR has handed out secret fines for all kinds of stupid things. And, ohh by the way, fining Hamlin and making a big deal out of it is bringing these comments further out into the open. I was not aware of them (I missed post race interviews) until today.

Hamlin says he won’t pay the fine. NASCAR is talking about garnishing winnings, but who knows how this will play out.

“We communicated to teams about three years ago, I think it was in 2010 in January, that you can voice your opinion about a lot of things in this sport,” said NASCAR spokeshole Kerry Tharp. “And we feel like we give our competitors a great deal of leeway when it comes to that. However, denigrating the racing is an area that we’re going to have a reaction to.”

Soooo, you said something once 3 years ago, and expect the drivers to toe a very precise line? Hamlin provided pretty much the only action on or off the track this week, so you feel the need to fine him?

I don’t know what asshats actually are, but right now NASCAR and its spokesholes Robin Pemberton and Kerry Tharp seem to be providing a clearer picture.

TRD Engines?

“TRD working to 24/7 to resolve engine issues” is the headline on nascar.com.

At first glance, it may look like a Joe Gibbs Racing problem rather than Toyota as a whole, as JGR drivers are the ones who have had visible engine problems.

Matt Kenseth had an engine blow up while leading the Daytona 500, and at Phoenix, Denny Hamlin had an engine that had a fatal valve problem only 61 laps into it’s life. Kyle Busch had human error destroy his engine:

In effort to improve reliability, Wilson said the springs in TRD engines are changed the night before a race. One of those was replaced incorrectly in Busch’s Phoenix engine, which cause something to snap in the drive train when it was restarted on Sunday morning.

Oops.

However, some Michael Waltrip Racing cars also saw similar valve train issues at Daytona. These did not prove fatal to the engines during the race, however, so they flew under the radar.

But either way, the JGR drivers are frustrated. Denny Hamlin said it best:

After learning that Busch also had to change engines at Phoenix, Hamlin tweeted a succinct message Sunday: “Sigh … Unreal.”

The race within the race within the race at Loudon

It was a race between Coach’s guy (Jimmie Johnson) and Rob’s guy (Clint Bowyer), and also between Rob’s guy and Rob’s alternate guy (Kasey Kahne). Even though Rob won the pool, he still lost the race within the race within the race. Also, who knew Kasey Kahne could triathalon faster than Jimmie Johnson? Chad Norris, that’s who.

Also in this week’s episode, more Denny Hamlin impressions, and a little bonus booth audio.

Picks for next week

Rob: Jamie McMurray (going on a limb)
Coach: Matt Kenseth (back to the safety driver)