Denny Hamlin made headlines at the end of last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway for a bold, three-wide move through the apron on the last lap. Jimmie Johnson edged him for second place at the line.
What he said after the race, though, has now cost him $25,000. Hamlin was fined Thursday for disparaging remarks about the racing quality with NASCAR’s new Generation 6 car.
Hamlin said he “didn’t want to be a pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning.”
NASCAR said Thursday they would not tolerate such remarks as they were considered actions detrimental to stock car racing.
There had been a period of secret fines issues to drivers in the past, but public fines occurred last year in several instances. Brad Keselowski was fined $25,000 last year after the November race at Phoenix for having his cellphone in his car and tweeting during the red flag caused when Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer had contact.
Keselowski’s in-race tweet at the 2012 Daytona 500 didn’t incur a penalty, and served as the springboard to his social media stardom throughout last season.
UPDATE, 3:15 pm ET: USA Today Sports NASCAR reporter Jeff Gluck tweeted late Thursday Hamlin will not pay the fine, and vows to not say anything about competition for the rest of the year. “Ask about his daughter and wins,” was the line Gluck used from Hamlin.
UPDATE 2, 10:30 pm ET: Hamlin released a statement on his own via Twitter. It starts, “The short of the long of it is I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined.”
MRTI: Sunday Barber Notebook
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Mother Nature intervened heavily on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires both completed their second races of the weekend on a wet track.
Indy Lights saw Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward complete the weekend sweep – he won Race 1 on Saturday – while Pro Mazda had a wet and wild race of survival that saw a pair of leaders go off, giving way to another first-time winner in Pro Mazda at the end of the day.
Reports on both races are below.
Indy Lights: Race 2 Victory Completes Dominant Weekend for O’Ward
Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward completed a perfect weekend at Barber Motorsports Park by claiming victory in Indy Lights Race 2 on Sunday.
Officials were forced to move the race up to 10:45 a.m. local time (11:45 ET) due to weather, and Race 2 began under a rain shower.
However, it did not deter O’Ward one bit, who rocketed off into the lead from the pole, and was never headed on his way to winning by over five seconds.
In addition to winning both races, O’Ward led every lap in both races, completing a weekend of utter dominance for the 18-year-old native of Mexico.
Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni came home in second, his best finish since moving up to Indy Lights this year, with Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta rounding out the podium.
The Belardi Auto Racing duo of Aaron Telitz and Santi Urrutia finished fourth and fifth, with Telitz finally finishing a race after only completing a combined four corners in the first three races of the season.
Urrutia, meanwhile struggled somewhat and faded to fifth after starting third.
Andretti’s Dalton Kellett and Ryan Norman and Juncos’ Alfonso Celis Jr. rounded out the field in sixth, seventh, and eighth.
Results are below.
Pro Mazda: Harrison Scott Survives the Rain to Take First Pro Mazda Win
RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott managed to survive a track that started out damp, began drying out, and then became very wet during a downpour in the final laps to win in Pro Mazda Race 2 from Barber.
Scott, who started second, was able to pass Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson, the polesitter and Race 1 winner, on the inside entering Turn 5 on Lap 2, with Thompson running slightly off track on corner exit and falling back to third, with Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez going through into second.
Scott, Gutierrez, and Thompson stayed close the rest of the way, and Gutierrez even managed to make a nifty outside pass on Scott in Turn 5 on Lap 9 to take the lead.
However, rain, which hit the track briefly and stopped about 30 minutes before the race started, returned in the second half of the race, and progressively got heavier.
It all came to a head on Lap 21, when the slick conditions sent Gutierrez off course in Turns 7 and 8. He rejoined the track, but fell back to seventh, allowing Scott back into the lead.
Race Control quickly threw a caution as a result of the conditions, and the race finished under yellow, with Scott taking the checkered flag for his first Pro Mazda win.
Behind Scott, Thompson came home in second, with Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunhas in third. Cunha’s teammate Rinus VeeKay was fourth, with BN Racing’s David Malukas rounding out the Top 5.
Of note: Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew was one of a couple drivers who pitted for rain tires under the late yellow, gambling that the race may go back to green – he was running tenth at the time. However, because the race never went back to green, Askew was relegated to 12th at the end.