France takes responsibility for decision to fine Hamlin

NASCAR CEO Brian France has been busier than usual to start the season. He met with reigning champion Brad Keselowski in late February to discuss questionable comments the Penske Racing driver made in a newspaper article. Then came a suspension of Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements for using a racial slur in front of an MTV reporter, followed by a $25,000 fine to Hamlin for criticizing the new Gen-6 car and the quality of racing at Phoenix. France acknowledged it was primarily his decision to penalize Hamlin, and he stood by that decision.

"There's always going to be, when we make decisions that are not black and white per se, we're always going to have people all over the organization that may not have made that call," France said. "But I did. I'm crystal clear with everybody about where the line is, what we can accept, and about how the sport is going today. And that is we give more latitude than any professional sport to criticize, speak their mind and say whatever they want. We encourage it, actually, including criticism that gets directed at us. But when the driver . . . begins to call out the quality of the racing or the rules packages, we have to make that call or opinions will shape what may not be reality."

France met with Hamlin, who dropped his right to appeal the fine, and believes they are on the same page now. ESPN

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