Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman were fined for derogatory comments made against NASCAR, both drivers confirmed on Friday at Pocono.
Although NASCAR did not disclose any penalties to the media like it usually does with any rules violations, news surfaced during the week that two Sprint Cup drivers had been fined for making negative comments about the sanctioning body in public. NASCAR would only confirm that they had taken action against some drivers, but did not reveal any details.
At Pocono Raceway Newman confirmed on Friday that he was one of the drivers in question, but did not specify which comments were the subject of NASCAR's ruling. The Stewart-Haas driver was critical of restrictor-plate races when speaking to the media after an accident at Talladega last April and also following some hard crashes at the venue in previous races.
Meanwhile Hamlin said some comments he made on his Twitter feed following a Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland, were probably the cause for NASCAR's scrutiny. Before that he had publicly questioned the call for a caution period late during a Sprint Cup series race at Michigan while he was in the lead.
"We want the drivers to speak their minds and show emotion - if we blow a call or make a mistake we should be criticized for it and we often are," said NASCAR's managing director of communications Ramsey Poston about the fines imposed.
"That's fine. But over the years, we have seen comments by drivers do serious damage to the sport - that means damage to every track promoter trying to sell tickets, every sponsor trying to promote their drivers and products and, ultimately, the fan base.
"No business owner would permit employees, vendors or partners to damage their business - nor can we. It is the sanctioning body's obligation on behalf of the entire industry to protect the brand, just like every other major sport."
NASCAR has been subject of criticism by the media for keeping the fines private, but Poston says they did not want to bring more attention to the matter, and neither have they intended to harm the interests of the sponsors of those penalized.
"As to why the fines are unannounced, it is akin to a meeting with NASCAR in the hauler," said Poston. "It is something between the driver and NASCAR. It is not a good idea to further recite and replay derogatory remarks - nor do we intend to embarrass the drivers' sponsors or team."
One of the fines was reportedly as high as US $50,000, but neither driver nor NASCAR have confirmed that.