NASCAR overpolicing in case of Denny Hamlin?

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm •  Published: March 11, 2013
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Straying from the script, as Hamlin learned, won't be tolerated by NASCAR.

Nor will taking the fans for idiots.

The backlash against NASCAR over Hamlin's fine included signs of "Free Denny" at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the hashtag (hash)StandWithDenny formed on Twitter as a riff on the (hash)StandWithRand from Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster a day earlier.

This is because fans watched the same two races Hamlin did to start the season. They saw the Daytona 500 was mostly a single-file parade until the late push to the checkered flag, and the race at Phoenix a week later had 445 fewer green-flag passes than last November's race there with the old car.

And the fans remembered that NASCAR chairman Brian France was asked in January how success will be measured with the Gen-6 car.

"I think we'll measure it by lead changes, we'll measure it by how it races, we'll measure it by how the drivers feel about it," France said.

We know how Hamlin felt about it, and he got his hand slapped. So how in the world will anyone believe anything the drivers say going forward? Why would they dare say anything even borderline critical?

Hamlin's comment was fairly mild. All he said was the car in its present form needs more work, that after two races it's not as good as where the old car was after six years.

Well, no kidding. The Gen-6 has been overhyped from the beginning, and NASCAR has backed itself into a corner by essentially guaranteeing the racing will be better this year. Eventually, it might. But to believe anyone at NASCAR was going to snap their fingers and roll out a magical new car capable of producing the most exciting races ever seen is ludicrous.

It's all a work in progress and it should be noted that the third race for the new car was better than the first two. According to NASCAR statistics that began in 2005, Sunday's race at Las Vegas had a record 31 green flag passes for the lead, and the 2,342 passes on the track under green was more than 1,000 over last year's race.

Maybe that makes for a better race, maybe not. That's for the fans to decide, based on what they see on the track and what they hear from the drivers. They don't need the drivers to tell them things are great if they aren't, and, as NASCAR learned, they'll quickly resent being force-fed anything but the cold, hard truth.

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Follow Jenna Fryer at https://twitter.com/JennaFryer and http://racing.ap.org


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