"We learned a lot. I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation 5 cars. 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 rather mild criticism of the Gen 6 (appearing in its second only race thus far) car has been enough, however, to cause NASCAR to issue Hamlin a $25,000 fine. The organization said that it gives its drivers "ample leeway" to voice their opinions but, "will not tolerate publicly made comments by its drivers that denigrate the racing product."
Hamlin, who races for Joe Gibbs Racing – and drove the Gen 6 Toyota Camry from a 43rd-place start to a 3rd-place finish in Phoenix, by the way – is incensed that NASCAR officials didn't reach out or attempt to have a conversation with him before issuing the fine. He has appealed the official decision, and vowed not to pay the twenty-five large.
Tweeted Hamlin on the issue: "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." We'll wait and see how this stand off at the stock car corral plays out.