New­man, Ham­lin quiet on fines for NASCAR cri­tiques

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

LONG POND, Pa. — Asked the amount of his NASCAR fine, Ryan New­man kept quiet. What did he do? Shrugged shoul­ders. Hey, maybe the threat of se­cret fines for speak­ing out against the stock car se­ries is work­ing af­ter all.

NASCAR ex­pects omerta (the code of si­lence) from its driv­ers when it comes to pub­licly lash­ing out against the sport. If they do, they’ll be fined. Ask New­man or Denny Ham­lin.

Both Sprint Cup star driv­ers ac­knowl­edged at Po­cono Race­way they were the ones fined by NASCAR for mak­ing crit­i­cal com­ments about the rac­ing se­ries.

“It’s not a good thing by any means for our sport,” New­man said Fri­day. “The less we talk about it, the more we can talk about the rac­ing.”

New­man re­fused to dis­close the amount of the fine or what he said. He im­plied that it was for com­ments he made af­ter he crashed at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way.

New­man said in April that win­ning was “a lot­tery; rac­ing for a cham­pi­onship shouldn’t be a lot­tery.” He added the wreck-heavy races at Tal­ladega “af­fect our cham­pi­onship be­cause it’s not rac­ing.”

He was one of a few driv­ers Fri­day who blamed the me­dia for stir­ring up con­tro­versy and an easy will­ing­ness to crit­i­cize the sport. New­man sug­gested if he was left alone for a few mo­ments af­ter his wreck in­stead of be­ing in­stantly forced to an­swer ques­tions, he might have cooled down and not been so quick to pop off.

“When you get a mi­cro­phone stuck in your face when the adren­a­line’s still rush­ing, don’t ex­pect ev­ery­thing to be pos­i­tive,” New­man said.

Or, he could have said “no com­ment.”

Ham­lin said he was pun­ished for com­ments he made on Twit­ter. He also did not re- veal the amount of the fine.

Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the penal­ties told The As­so­ci­ated Press this week fines were levied be­cause the com­ments were con­sid­ered dis­parag­ing to the sport. The peo­ple spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause NASCAR was not pub­licly iden­ti­fy­ing the topflight driv­ers it fined. They say one driver was pe­nal­ized as much as $50,000.

The penal­ties back up NASCAR’s sea­son-long ef­fort to re­build the slump­ing sport through an im­proved on-track prod­uct and off-track pro­mo­tion from its driv­ers. Sprint Cup race for an im­pres­sive fol­low-up to last week’s pole start but dis­ap­point­ing 32nd-place fin­ish at the Brick­yard 400.

Denny Ham­lin will start third as he tries to sweep both Po­cono races. Ham­lin won the Po­cono 500 in June.

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