Not only does Denny Hamlin still think he was right, now he also thinks NASCAR chairman Brian France thinks Denny Hamlin was right.
Hamlin held his ground Friday in the controversy over his recent remarks about the Gen-6 race car. Hamlin was fined $25,000 for what NASCAR called “disparaging” remarks about the car after the Phoenix race.
Hamlin initially responded angrily and said he would appeal the fine. But he announced this week he had decided not to appeal, saying he wants to move on.
On Friday, before a crowd of reporters at the rear of his team transporter, Hamlin said he has had conversations with France about the issue and that it’s his impression that France believes NASCAR overreacted in fining him.
“In hindsight, I really believe they overreacted, and I believe they think they overreacted once they thought about it a little bit," Hamlin said.
Hamlin also said many drivers don’t often reveal their true thinking because they want to stay on NASCAR’s “good side.”
“Ninety percent of what you hear on a weekly basis is just guys trying to stay on NASCAR’s good side,” he said. “There’s very few that really give you the honest truth."
He said he decided to drop the appeal because he didn’t want to extend conversation about the issue.
“What was the point in going another week or so?” he said. “We've got bigger to fish to fry than to argue over what I said just for $25,000. It’s better to move on and let NASCAR get its credibility back. They’re going to do that, and I’m going to move on.”
Hamlin again said he would not pay the fine and said he had prepared to be suspended if NASCAR chose that direction.
After Hamlin said he wouldn’t appeal, NASCAR said Thursday it would handle the situation through a rule that allows it to garnish drivers’ race winnings, but Hamlin said Friday he has not been told NASCAR will take that action.
“I can give you a hundred interviews that were way worse than mine over the last few seasons that nobody said anything about,” Hamlin said. “I think they were very, very sensitive about this car. This is their baby.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.