POCONO, P.A. _ Less than a week after learning his driver Denny Hamlin was hit with a fine for questioning NASCAR’s decision to throw debris cautions on the social networking site Twitter, team president J.D. Gibbs spoke with Jay W. Pennell about the penalty and his reactions.
“We knew pretty early on,” Gibbs said of the penalty. “My thing was just make sure, it wasn’t so much his ideas or his thoughts, so much as how he communicated them. I think was the biggest piece. With NASCAR, you can go up into that hauler and you can say whatever you want to say behind closed doors and get it out. I think that bodes well as opposed to saying it different ways. I think how it was communicated was the big issue.”
With some of the most vocal and expressive drivers in the garage on his team, Gibbs says the organization has discussed how to move forward from this issue and have a better understanding of what NASCAR is looking for from their drivers.
“We learned from it and I think our guys kind of get it,” Gibbs said. “What’s going on is you’re trying to build a sport up, but at the same time if you see something that really needs to be addressed, do so behind closed doors.”
Since joining Twitter, Hamlin has been one of the most active drivers on the social networking site. From holding ticket give-a-ways for fans, answering questions from his followers and letting his opinions be heard, Hamlin has always been himself on Twitter. Yet when his comments went too far in NASCAR’s opinion, he was hit with a hefty fine.
“I think (Twitter is) one of the places that you can be (yourself),” Hamlin said. “But this is a place – I’m in a position where I’m always, no matter what I say, on or off the record, it’s always on the record. So you’ve got to continue to be a role model for the sport, be positive, because honestly it does affect everyone out there.”
Now that Hamlin has been fined for his comments on a venue away from the track, he vows he will not stop using the site to connect with his fans, but he will think before he Tweets. Gibbs explained Hamlin had a clear understanding of that after talking with NASCAR.
“He knows,” Gibbs said. “I think he knows what’s going on and what he needs to say and what to stay away from.”
For Hamlin, that means no more questioning phantom cautions, claiming NASCAR throws cautions for the purpose of making a better show and overall questioning the sport’s integrity.