NASCAR Bristol 2013: Denny Hamlin says NASCAR overreacted in fining him for Phoenix comments

Todd Warshaw

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Denny Hamlin appears set to lose $25,000 one day after announcing that he was dropping his appeal against NASCAR. But the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was hardly apologetic on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hamlin virtually declared himself the winner of the ordeal in the court of public opinion. And by dropping the appeal, he can get back to focusing on his career while NASCAR works on "getting its credibility back."

Hamlin said that he met with NASCAR officials yesterday -- including CEO Brian France and that the two parties have reached a degree of compromise.

"We had a lot of the same ideas," Hamlin said. "And I think that in hindsight I really believe they overreacted and I believe that they think they overreacted once they thought about it a little bit, but now we're at a point that we're good with each other and we're just going to move on."

Hamlin said he wasn't at liberty to share the particulars of his conversation with France, citing their professional relationship with each other but added he felt the two were on the same page after he left the hauler.

He still believes that his comments were taken out of context and that he was actually more critical of the Goodyear tire package rather than NASCAR's new car.

"I like the car -- I think it's better," Hamlin said. "That's me giving the 100 percent honest truth. I was more frustrated with the tire that we were on than anything, so that's the part that frustrated me is it put me on an island feeling like I was bashing the race car, which was definitely not how I felt."

In hindsight, Hamlin admits that he should have handled the situation differently and would have if he had understood just how sensitive NASCAR was about the Gen-6 car.

"I really thought my comments were very casual and very small in the grand scheme of things," Hamlin said. "Really no one even knew about it until it got brought to light. Definitely, I think from this point forward I will be voicing my opinions to NASCAR directly on what we need to do to make it better."

NASCAR has elected the right to garnish winnings and/or points fund earnings from Hamlin this season but the sanctioning body has not yet announced to Hamlin what the next step will be.

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