Monday, August 9, 2010

Day Four: Did NASCAR Crush Social Media? (Updated With Hamlin Comments)


Veteran reporter Dustin Long posted these quotes from Denny Hamlin about his Twitter fines and subsequent use of social media on the Hamptonroads.com website.

Denny Hamlin admits he's not commenting as often on Twitter after being fined an undisclosed amount by NASCAR recently for comments series officials felt were hurtful to the sport. Said Hamlin: "I'd say half of the time I was on (Twitter discussing NASCAR stuff and whatnot. They really don't want me going there, so I'm not going to go there. It's just one of those things. I'm still part of that stuff, but obviously with getting a fine and everything, you've got to be a little bit more careful.''

Well, it was fun while it lasted. This season many fans have been enjoying a level of direct interaction with NASCAR personalities, including drivers, that has never existed before. It's called Twitter.

It was no longer a pipe dream to communicate with your favorite driver and have him answer you back. It happened every day. As the season progressed, drivers and teams began to understand that Twitter was a gold mine in terms of building a new NASCAR fan base and exposing sponsors directly to race fans.

Twitter technology is so portable that cell phones now offer an entirely new opportunity for NASCAR personalities to exchange all kinds of information and have conversations about the sport directly with fans. In a word, it was amazing.

TV personalities jumped on the bandwagon along with most of the NASCAR media. Teams, sponsors and even the sanctioning body joined the party. Each NASCAR series, all the tracks and most of the NASCAR TV shows have very active Twitter accounts.

Then, after a seemingly harmless chat about the value of late race "show caution" flags, the bottom fell out. It was AP reporter Jenna Fryer who broke the story of Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman being secretly fined by NASCAR. Hamlin's penalty was supposedly for Twitter conversations.

Click here to read the SBNation post that was apparently the straw that broke NASCAR's back in terms of patience with Hamlin's candid conversations on Twitter.

Click here to read Hamlin's subsequent conversation about waking up to the fact that NASCAR had been watching his social media activities for months. "They did give me a pretty good log book of all the negative things I've had to say over the last couple of months," said Hamlin. It was a log book of Twitter comments.

This week, Twitter has been almost silent when it comes to drivers and real conversations. The normal PR and marketing tweets have been sent out. The appearances and autograph sessions have been promoted. What is missing is the heart and soul of NASCAR on Twitter. What is missing is the drivers.

NASCAR reinforced the edict of no negative talk about the sport by putting personalities on TV and radio to echo that theme. The result is that the content heard "on the air" is rather different than that expressed elsewhere.

Click here to view the candid online video from Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond about winning and The Chase for the Championship.

It seems ironic that it was Hammond on SPEED's Race Hub this week emphatically delivering the message of no negative talk in public about anything connected with NASCAR. Hammond said on Race Hub that if folks working in NASCAR did not like what the sanctioning body was doing, they should get out of the sport.

Here is an excerpt from Fryer's original story about the fines and what trying to control the public comments of drivers and personalities could bring:

But it’s also a slippery slope. NASCAR fans often choose their favorite drivers based on personality and competitive fire and after years of complaining that the stars had become too corporate, the racers this year were urged to let loose. From the “boys, have at it” policy that permits more aggressive driving to NASCAR encouraging drivers to cut back sponsor plugs in favor of raw emotion, now asking them to bite their tongue is a mixed message.

It should be interesting to see the impact of all of this on the one place where drivers could express their own thoughts without PR managers or agents involved. The one place where fans worldwide came to interact with drivers on a one-on-one basis. The one place where drivers opened the door to their family life, their hobbies and ultimately to their true personalities.

If drivers stay quiet on Twitter permanently the loss to NASCAR is going to be much greater than the damage one 29 year-old did debating debris caution flags with a NASCAR blogger. NASCAR may have closed an important social media door it can't reopen.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

54 comments:

DexterMorgan said...

The people that run Nascar, are without a doubt, the stupidest human beings to ever run a major national sport. They are so short-sighted, they have no long term vision, and even the simplest of simple people could of seen the fines were going to backfire. Its like the phantom cautions. Nascar throws them thinking it will make the race exciting, but fans end up being turned off because they know its contrived. Now you have even more pissed off fans, more pissed off drivers, and a Nascar Nation that even despises Nascar more than they did before.

How come the only people truly defending this action are the shills on Sirius Nascar Radio and FOX?

The further into the gutter this sport goes the better as far as im concerned. Nascar needs new management, a new direction, and a new outlook on their business. Fans and drivers are turning on everything the sanctioning body is spitting out right now.

Jonathan said...

oh and Dex im defending Nascar as well when it comes to Denny Hamlin, not so much with Ryan Newman but Denny took it to the extreme and sounded like a little kid when he kept at it about Nascar! Denny dont forget who made you Enough is enough good for Nascar again just my take on things

Vince said...

Let me second DexterMorgan's post. I couldn't say it any better. Nascar, you've shot yourself in the foot again. I feel Nascar has disrespected all fans. And I AM TIRED OF IT!

The reason I finally got a Twitter account this summer was to be able to hear directly from the drivers. It was cool. But now all we get is happy talk or just plain silence.

Guys like Hammond, DW, Larry and the rest of the "say only good things about Nascar" bunch are doing all fans a disservice. We are not idiots. We have brains and know when a load of BS is getting crammed down our throats. Now how are we supposed to believe anything coming out of a drivers mouth again? Nascar has killed what was a great thing.

I have been on the brink with my interest and support of Nascar this year. This not letting drivers express themselves honestly may be the straw that drives me away from the sport once and for all. I've about had it.

Anonymous said...

Intentionaly wreck the driver next to you,slap on the wrist,say anything away from the track about NASCAR,pay up sucker.

Ryan said...

shame we can't get the DW that was on that online show on Speed or FOX

Anonymous said...

There will be no new management. The FRANCE family rules and always have.

Many get fired in jobs for bad mouthing their employee in person, email, twitter or Facebook.

NASCAR has many issues and Twitter was fun. But the pontificating did get out of hand, though other drivers were still fun to share things with. They Tweeted their OWN COMMENTS/pics and did not 'farm it out' for somebody else to play PR.

It's all been stomped on now.

It really stinks but that's NASCAR.

I understand not wanting the drives to bite the hand that feeds them. Fair enough.

But so many issues with the broadcasts (that goes totally ignored by TPTB of not concerned...or they must have David Hill's don't like it? "TOUGH" attitude.

While fans are turning away from the sport for whatever reason, a few things are clear. The COT & HANS device is saving lives.

NASCAR cares not a bit about Social Media.

The questions from NASCAR Fan council are a joke imo. Lame smiley & frowny faces. 1 thru 10 points scale.

Little room to address the real issues like if you DO NOT ENJOY the broadcasts, WHY NOT???????????

It's endless.

F1 & Indycar have problems as well. Huge ones.

So what long term fall out this has I do not know. But seeing as how NASCAR has shows on SPEED and SPEED people must play nice...that must include Robin Miller.

He refuses to take part in social media. Especially Twitter.

I think I just found out why. But sometimes what the sport does NOT want to hear, is the truth, and it hurts.

Putting a kabosh on the drivers real feelings online/ on camera, while pretending there is a 'have at it boys' on the track is phony.

Sure, you don't want them putting their employer NASCAR aka France bunch out of business.

But never listening to the soulful cries of what many fans believe to be wrong is not going to soothe the disenchantment of fans.

jone1981 said...

The whole thing is being blown out of proportion and is self immolating. NASCAR is within its rational thinking and power to suggest Denny Hamlin can't turn his twitter feed into a bitch column constantly ripping on NASCAR.

However, I would suggest that NASCAR errs in doing so. It's far more entertaining than one of the many hack-media stories these days that bemoans low attendance numbers as it pitches a story to stay at home watchers. Why do I want to hear about how I think the sport is dying? I wasnt at the track but I watched it on TV and now I have to login and see half the stories every week whining about low attendace?

I still like the sport, Im trying to read about it, why dont you give me something more than "the sport you like is dying."

That said, Denny Hamlin's comments are far less damaging and far more engaging than something the media writes. NASCAR can censor their drivers but not the media. I think NASCAR should ultimately let them speak and encourage an outlaw culture. The sport wont die. Insteand, NASCAR is becoming a poor man's NBA from a logistical, administrative standpoint.

Anonymous said...

If NASCAR wanted to show up Dennis Hamlin they shouldnt have fined him and looked like twitter censors. They should have just thrown tons of more debris cautions every time he was in the lead at the end of a race. Would have been subtle, sneaky, unproveable, and entertaining.

majorshouse said...

It is quite obvious that NASCAR is more worried about its image than a real sport. I think we need to go back to the roots of the sport with shorter tracks, shorter races and if they want to make the cars safer, fine, just make them look like a stock car. I used to never miss a race wherever I was and now if I miss it, oh well. Races are boring and now NASCAR being the big brother that they are have made it less than fun to watch, way to go Bryan, maybe we ought to fine you and the rest of the France family for malpractice of the sport.

Chadderbox said...

I have been a Nascar fan for over 30 years. I have been attending 5 races a year for the last 15 years that I travel out of state to see (hotels, plane tickets, etc). So I consider myself a core member of the nascar fan base. I don't decide what I think about Nascar racing as a whole, based on what drivers say on Twitter. I am sorry. That is just not the way it is for me.

I will also admit that I don't have any idea how a newer nascar fan might react to driver Tweets that criticize Nascar racing. I think it is a total overreach by Nascar to stifle this form of free speech.

If Nascar is worried about the fan base turning away from the sport because of comments on Twitter or that the comments themselves are damaging to the sport - well that may be the opinion of Nascar suits but that doesn't make it fact!

I think Nascar could be afraid that they may be losing control of the overall messaging/branding of the sport.

Nascar needs to get some REAL facts on why TV ratings have dropped and why ticket sales to events are down and stop focusing on what drivers are saying on Twitter.

Nascar is going to lose this battle because they just will not be able to control what is said via social media no matter how hard they try!

Tom said...

I also agree with Dexter's assessment. It is true, NASCAR is a private family run business that does not have to allow anyone freedom of speech, does not need to be in any way fair when officiating, and most importantly, is not required to present a "product" that follows a set of rules that are fair and consistent week in and week out. No, they are not required to do any of these things, because it is their "show" and they can do what they want.
But I am also not required to watch, attend, or follow the "product"

After watching the Glen this weekend (which I happen to really like), I think I will take Hammond's advice and get lost.

Tom
Inverness, FL

GinaV24 said...

Yep, NASCAR crushed it, along with the little spark of actual interest that the fans were enjoying with the drivers.

It is amazing to me that NASCAR continues to think that the dictatorship method is working. They can stand up and say "its the economy" all they like. Does the economy play a role? Sure it does, but if that is all that it is, why aren't people watching on TV even more?

Bad broadcasts are one answer and disillusionment and disgust with a lot of the actions NASCAR is taking are also part of the answer.

In 2001, I watched every minute of NASCAR programming I could find. If I couldn't be home to watch, I'd record it to watch later. In 2010, I never sit through a qualifying session all the way- if my driver has a shot for the pole - I may stay tuned for a little longer but as soon as that opportunity is gone, I turn it off. I seldom watch practice - its usually tape delayed or heavens knows I can't be bother to chase it around on ESPN and the pre-race garbage is just that. Races, well, even races I don't watch all the way through -

I listened to the 3-wide thing on Fox. It made me laugh because both DW and Larry are like willows in the wind. They blow whichever direction seems expedient. They want to pretend they are on the fans side right now. As soon as NASCAR beats on them a little, they will once again toe the party line and go back to telling the fans what the fans should be thinking -- NASCAR is wonderful, the chase is the best thing ever and wow, isn't the race on this boring track THE most exciting thing you've ever seen! We have to go to commercial now and when we come back -- Jr or Johnson or Kyle Busch will be in the lead!! (no offense intended to Jr fans, but you know what I mean with DW).

Obviously NASCAR already got to Hammond - so according to Hammond, if you don't like what NASCAR is doing, you should just get out. Hmmm, that appears to be exactly what the fans are doing.

Anonymous said...

The downhill slide continues on a rapid descent.

I'm afraid nothing short of Brian France resigning and a new management staff will cure this.

As far as Dexter's comment about Sirius radio - he hit it on the head, they are a bunch of NASCAR shills. They are degrading and belittling anyone who attempts to stae any negative views on NASCAR.

I do not see anything getting better in 2011. With more ill thought out changes the fans will continue to drop off. NASCAR has made it's bed now they have to lie in it.

RJ_Number8 said...

"Did NASCAR crush the social media?"

NO. Not even close.

"I still like the sport, I'm trying to read about it, why dont you give me something more than "the sport you like is dying.""

Well said jone1981, I absolutely agree. I thought there would be something about Watkins Glen today. Oh well.

Buschseries61 said...

NASCAR and social media are oil and water. NASCAR does not realize how much they are losing out compared to othe sports. NASCAR without the drivers is nothing. The "you need us, we don't need you" chat in the NASCAR hauler may not be so true at this stage of the sport.

As for FOX, their comments are worthless. Whatever sounds good is what these bufoons will say. Just last year Larry was outspoken about the sport, NASCAR didn't like it and Larry suddenly sang a brand new tune.

Donna in FL said...

Since when has driver social media become entitlement?? It could all go away tomorrow and I'd still be watching races & liking my drivers. Half of my favorite drivers have never done social media of any sort themselves (PR does it), and I haven't liked them any less because of it!! Of the other half, I've only seen a couple have the novelty worn off. The rest I monitor have posted the same stuff as usual.

Did you honestly think Denny could or would go on trashing forever? I knew he was gonna be in trouble when I saw several fans "thrilled" that he was taking "their" side. Did you think NASCAR was going to continue to ignore all the chatter they heard as a result of such driver opinions in writing?

To say NASCAR is going to die due to tweeting or lack thereof is ridiculous & the whole situation was blown totally out of proportion (another internet failing).

Gary said...

NASCAR should learm from WWE. The McMahon's ran it right, let their wrestlers talk, and Linda McMahon survived choke slams, etc, and shows leadership to now get into politics.

Maybe a France will leap to the Dem Party (and run for some office) and make room for a new (fresh) person to run the NASCAR business?

bevo said...

The reason for this is simple - with drivers on Twitter NASCAR can't control the filters which they have in all other aspects of fan interaction.

The greatest fear of petty dictators is the free flow of ideas and information. Brian France knows deep down that he is in a position way above his ability.

Control the messenger and you control the message - Propaganda 101.

JS said...

"Have at it, boys. But say anything negative about NASCAR & the benevolent dictatorship's gonna ride you like it's 2008."

One step forward 'n two steps back...

OSBORNK said...

I think NA$CAR has it completely backwards. The happy talk and the "everything is great" message does not attract an audience. You need controversy and disagreement to draw an audience. People tune in or show up to see what happens next. Who wants to attend or watch a manipulated and orchestrated entertainment event with a predictable outcome? The griping and complaining at least cause some people to come and see what the controversy is about. The drivers are only saying what the fans already know and they appreciate a driver with the guts to say it publically. I don't think happy talk draws any fans at all because we can see what the product is and we will watch or not watch based on what we see.

allisong said...

Wow, who knew that bashing NASCAR was the only thing drivers were allowed to do on Twitter? Really?

If a driver is using the edict against undermining the sport as an excuse not to tweet at all, I think that says more about them than it does NASCAR. Pretty childish reaction. Is there nothing else going on in their lives?

I have enjoyed following Kevin and DeLana Harvick, Max Papis, and others, and getting to know them just fine, and guess what? They don't have to bash NASCAR to accomplish that.

Kevin said...

Personally, I have zero interest in Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other social media sites. (And don't mistake me for an old person--I'm 25. I just don't like what these websites are doing to our society.) However, what NASCAR did was wrong. Did they have a right to? Absolutely; they run the sport and can attempt to control what they want. But I believe this decision will only cause further harm to their already suffering image--ironically, the thing they are the most concerned about but don't seem to know how to fix.

Darcie said...

Good Freaking Grief, People. Some of you on this site make it sound as if Denny has been trashing Nascar 24/7. That's not true, if you've followed his tweets. Sure, there have been some negative things he tweeted (and might I remind all of you that what he Tweeted are things nearly all of us agree with), but for God's sake, one has to be a moron to change your beliefs, opinions or whatever just because of what someone tweets. At least Denny had the guts to tell it like the fans know it.

In this situation, what is Nascar? Is it a private entity owned and tightly controlled by one or two people? Are the drivers owned by Nascar, or are they individual private contractors? I think once that question is answered, you have to look at things differently. Can Nascar muzzle private contractors? I don't know, but what I would love to see is someone who would have the balls to take on Nascar and see what happens. Do any of you think Nascar would "fire" Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jr or Jeff Gordon if one of them would have the guts to say "I'm sick of this and I'm not going to take it anymore"? I,for one,am sick and tired of hearing Nascar tell everyone that drivers are expendable and that if they don't toe the line they're gone. But would Nascar have the guts to actually fire one of the superstars? But, the drivers have no balls or courage to take on Nascar and tell them enough is enough.

All of this stuff (I would love to use an expletive here, but it's a family site) Nascar is pulling is akin to what happened in China when they block the internet or in Dubai when they block access to the internet on Blackberry phones. I thought the US was a free country. I guess not, if you're involved in Nascar. Gee, has anyone looked at a copy of the Constitution lately? Have I missed an amendment that allows Nascar to run it's own kingdom within the US? Yes, I know that employers can control their employees to a certain extent, but do any of you really believe that anything any driver has said has damaged Nascar?

I will say again what I've said before. Nascar is not being ruined by driver's comments. Might I remind Nascar that the drivers did not start the Chase, which is a miserable failure. The drivers did not start the Nascar Welfare System of the Top 35, the Lucky Dog or the Wave Around. The drivers did not take the history from the sport by dumping Darlington and Rockingham. The drivers did not design a crappy car that totally demolished brand identity. The drivers aren't the ones who have turned Nascar into IROC. All these things were done by France, Helton and the rest. I call for those two guys to be fined and suspended for conduct detrimental to Nascar and leave the drivers alone to be the only ones to speak the truth at the fans already know it.

DMan said...

Funny how when NA$CAR gets tired of one controversy they manage to come with someting else to get everyone's mond off of the first one. Since the Hamlin/Newman deal broke out is anyone talking about Edwards/Kez deal. How about Carl Long's punishment just when NA$CAR was getting tired of the attention Mayfield was getting...see where I'm going with this?

NA$CAR forgets things when they hand out their iron-fist Hugo Chavez type rulings: controversy breeds interest. 'Nuff said.

GinaV24 said...

Donna in FL - NASCAR isn't going to "die" because it crushed the social media. But when an organization loses this much popularity because its been making consistently bad business decisions for several years, that may cause it to die.

I can only state my opinion of things, others may feel differently. I don't follow Denny so I didn't see the tweets, but I did see the post-race interview and heck I knew that he was going to get into trouble with NASCAR, which goes to the point that - I form my own opinion of how NASCAR is doing - I'm not dependent on any driver's point of view, tweet or manifesto.

I understand NASCAR's interest in protecting the sport and wanting people to say good things about it, but it should be because there's a REASON to speak well of the sport, not because they are going to make everyone pretend.

Richard in N.C. said...

The way I read the comments about NASCAR's having shown Hamlin and Newman a compilation of their disparaging remarks was that they were fined not for 1 or 2 comments, but for multiple comments. EESPN took Tony Kornheiser off the air for 2 weeks for poking fun at Hannah Storm. All large entities guard their images. Academic freedom does not extend to college football or basketball coaches' being able to criticize officials with impunity. A couple of years ago the NBA instituted a dress code.

Perception can become reality - see recent commentary by Bob Margolis. Gillette pays Denny Hamlin a significant amount to promote their razor, presumably because they feel fans listen to what he says and believe him.

There is so much available on the internet and I have so much to do that I've never found the time to look into Twitter.

My immediate thought when Hamlin made his extended, post-race comment that he was sure a caution would be coming was that JJ does not need to worry about him in the Chase because he still acts before he thinks.

majorshouse said...

The last time I checked, the drivers were independent contractors and I for one would love to see a Jimmy Johnson or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. stand up and say I am not taking this anymore, then it would be interesting to see what France and Helton would say and agree that they should be fined for actions detremental to stock car racing because this is not racing, it is a show. I ahve been following this sport for well over 40 years and the old racing as I knew it could be all otu rubbing and banging each other into a wall and then spouting off and after the 1979 Daytona 500 and the infamous fight, we saw true character and it makes one wonder what would happen today if that happened?

Anonymous said...

If you guys haven't read Matt McLaughlin's latest artice from the Frontstretch.com web site, I'd highly recommend it. Matt is my new hero.

Vince

David Evertsen said...

I had wondered all season why the NASCAR officials like Ramsey Poston and others had seemingly disappeared from twitter this year compared to last. No going back green tweets or answering where the debris was.. Nothing I guess NASCAR started the season telling their own folks to shut up.. I really getting tired of getting the company line from the TV hosts and such, Glad Jenna Fryer, Jeff Gluck and the rest still keep us informed so we get the real story..

Anonymous said...

DexterMorgan: I would saw Bud Selig and the others at the MLB are the dumbest to run a major national sport. NASCAR is probably the second dumbest.

I mean, the MLB struggles to get 10,000 people to show up, at least NASCAR can draw 50,000+

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Hey um Vince

Where can i find you on Twitter

Anonymous said...

To answer your question:
Yeah, seems like it.
It's a bummer. But Nascar isn't exactly run by fun people with a sense of humor.

hotaru-hockeymaiden87 said...

I don't think there should be a clampdown on critics 'bout our sport. If you think something is wrong, say it and don't lie.

On a sort-of related topic- Anyone ever go on the official NASCAR FB page? I have in the past few days and it's a real mess. I guess their not worried 'bout their OWN page.

red said...

i'm in the minority again, i see. quite simply for me: it wasn't about WHAT was said, it was about WHERE and how often it was said.
as far as twitter: there is NO reason for drivers to stop tweeting -- unless they're trying to make a point by doing so. hamlin's twitter exchange w/jeff gluck was over the line and it shouldn't take nascar fining him for him to understand that. he can say "i hate those cautions," he can say "i didn't see the debris," he can say "man, i had that race won until that caution came out." what he cannot say in public is that nascar deliberately fixed the race by throwing bogus flags. he may believe it, fans may believe it, tv and nascar media may believe. but stating it repeatedly in public and then saying "i didn't have the phone numbers of any nascar execs" is just bogus. when he had a complaint, he should have manned up and walked over to the trailer and told them what he thought. my understanding is that drivers were told just that at the beginning of the season & hamlin admits that as well. perhaps he thought it didn't apply to him?

if a driver has a problem with how nascar runs their business, talk to them FIRST, not the fans, not the media. speak up at the meetings, talk to helton, pemberton, et al at the track over the weekend, talk with your owner about it. but take it to nascar first. after all, they employ you.

also funny how the spotters haven't stopped tweeting since fines, huh? (of course, i follow the spotters more than the drivers anyway!)

the drivers i follow are still tweeting but then again, they didn't tweet about what they thought was wrong with the sport. they tweeted about how they felt about how the race ended up, how their car/truck was, how the team worked. they aren't nascar shills: they just understood that they didn't need to piss and moan in public about how "nascar did me wrong."

look at sadler this past weekend at pocono: after that horrific wreck, he didn't slam nascar -- or even the track, he did state that they need to fix that place and recognized that track mgmt knew that. he expressed his opinion even right out of infield care without blasting the sport. it CAN and has been done by generations of racers.

nascar is not perfect and often isn't even intelligent in their decisions. but nascar told the drivers what had changed at the start of the season, both hamlin & newman admitted that so the responsibility lies with them.

i believe that this, too, will pass. give it a month and they'll be back -- but they won't be slamming in public the sport that gives them a comfortable living. if that's what fans want -- drivers to validate the fan opinion about how bad the nascar corporate is -- then i suspect fans will be disappointed.

and i believe they should be.

Anonymous said...

Red, Nascar doesn't employ the drivers. They are all independent contractors. They work for their car owners, not Nascar. Nascar is just the sanctioning body that runs things.

JD for some reason today I'm having a problem posting here under my Google account, so I'm posting as anon. Heard about any problems or is it just me?

Vince

red said...

vince: agreed, i know they're independent contractors who work for the team, not nascar. but you understood my point: they make their living racing in nascar. whether they work for nascar or in nascar isn't the issue. the sport affords them solid compensation for the work they do.

independent contractors in the non-nascar world would not be employed if they went public with complaints about a company the way hamlin did. it simply doesn't work like that. why should a driver be permitted to slam the sport without consequences? i would have a whole lot more respect for hamlin if he said "I understand nascar's point, i accept my fine, it's behind me now." kinda like, oh who was it? oh, right: like newman did.

there's side issues here that merit discussion, i agree. for example: how can driver be independent contractor when it comes to health care and retirement but not this? why did nascar attempt to keep this out of the media? why all the secrecy over an issue that is fairly well understood in the non-racing world & is handled regularly without drama?

but bottom line for me: not what was said but where (and in hamlin's case, how often) it was said.

Tripp in Mississippi said...

NASCAR moves one step closer to pro wrestling than pro sports. It's less and less about the competition and more and more about the show and about rivalries. Sound familiar.

Now, stick and ball teams and leagues have "you can't badmouth us" rules too but they don't make it rain in the top of the 8th or throw towels on the court with 20 seconds to go.

F1 may have arcane and complex rules but they tend to let the race play out on the track.

Mr. France... how do you want your golden goose, oven roasted or deep fried?

Anonymous said...

Red, Hamlin should have gone to NASCAR and told them privately of his issues? How do we know he didn't? or that the issue didn't come up in a meeting between the drivers and nascar before? It's not like the mystery cautions are something new. Maybe they had come up in the private meetings before, and that's why he finally said something public about it.

red said...

anon @10:48: point understood. but hamlin himself said he never had the phone numbers of any of the nascar execs before this and, in the context in which he said it, it read as if "i didn't say anything to them because i didn't know how to reach them."

i have to believe that if hamlin spoke with nascar at some point, he likely would have referred to that in his own defense following the story of the fines breaking. he didn't.

again, nascar stinks it up on a regular basis but when both drivers state that yes, they'd been told at the beginning of the season what was changed, what was acceptable and what wasn't, then they must accept responsibility for their words.

social media hasn't been crushed by nascar over this. what has been crushed is drivers taking their complaints to the media and fans via social media repeatedly and expecting there will be no consequences. i'm not convinced yet that is a bad change.

again, the side issues are compelling but on this one, single point, i agree with the fines. the rest of it? not so much, to be honest. but once one is told there will be consequences to a behavior and one opts to indulge in that behavoir, then the consequences should be expected.

it's a choice each driver made and choices have results. the fines were the results.

Anonymous said...

This has been a very good discussion and it seems to me the tweets and the fines are pretty irrelevant. What comes through is that in a number of areas NASCAR officials prefer to look for fault in others rather than with themselves.

This is not to say others are free of fault. It is to say that there is more than enough fault to go around and if the situation remains unchanged no good will come.

NASCAR will not "die," but it will revert to a regional blue-collar "pseudosport" on par with wrestling particularly once the idea sinks in (true or not) with the wider public that it is fixed or scripted. A suitable filler for the maw of cable, but not for viewing by over-air audiences.

Keep up the good work, Brian! Forward to obscurity, Mike !

...and Larry Mac chirps up on cue, "shootout style!"

Boogity, boogity, boogity indeed.

Clarke

OSBORNK said...

Most of us are not focusing on the real problem. Fines for similar incidents are present in most major sports. The problem is the secrecy. Whether it is sports or politics, people are suspicious of things done secretly. The fines should have been disclosed to the public in detail. The fans could have then made a judgement on the merits of Nascar's actions. The secrecy also makes us wonder what else is done secretly. This causes Nascar racing to be perceived more as entertainment rather than a sport.

allisong said...

Red - If you are in the minority, I'm right there with ya! You made excellent points. I can't believe the amount of whining still going on over this.

Anonymous said...

Secrecy. Nascar has done things this way for decades and I've never understood it. Why the big need to keep everything a secret? The much vaulted town hall meetings with owners and drivers are secret. The black box readings from Elliot Sadlers hit last weekend are secret. The fines on Denny and Ryan were secret. It goes on and on. Nascar needs to be more transparent to the fans. They come across as the KGB the way they do business.

Vince

Anonymous said...

Oh and I forgot, the biggest secret Nascar has. The rule book. Go out and try to buy one. You can't. It's not possible.

Vince

Vicky D said...

It seems like Nascar is more concerned with Hamlin & Newman's comments/tweets (whatever) than other drivers intentionally spinning and wrecking other drivers and just about injuring them or worse! And I didn't like this secrecy about the fines either. I also liked what Tripp in Miss wrote too. But all of us on twitter have tweeted during a race that Nascar must be looking for debris in order to call a caution so surely the teams think the same as us and think they call phantom cautions (to bunch up the field). BF has really changed Nascar and not for the better.

Anonymous said...

I don't see this as a really big deal in and of itself. It is however another in a long history of actions by NASCAR that indicates how out of touch they are with the majority of fans. The NASCAR leadership apparently thinks all fans will be happy if they only hear happy talk.

NASCAR leadership also apparently does not understand the laws of unintended consequences. They only look at the short terms goals of control and maximum extraction of money. The long terms effects of individual actions on the health of the sport and the fan reactions are lost on them.

Brian France is doing for NASCAR what Tony George did for open wheel racing. There is a lesson there for Brian as well. If you do a bad enough job, even family connections won't save you.

longtimeracefan said...

To Vince: Thanks for the tip regarding Matt McLaughlin's column, Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It's a classic.

Also, about the mysterious NASCAR rule book, it does seem kind of odd that it's not published. Lends credence to the theory that they're just making it up as they go long.

DexterMorgan said...

I second Matt Mclaughlins article. Its amazing.

Gregg said...

Hotshoe #1
I really didn't think the "Have at it Boys" edict would last very long. But this whole fining for posting a Tweet is ridiculous. This "IS" America right....the last time I looked. Freedom of Speech and all that. Since when is Nascar bigger than the Constitution & The Bill of Rights. We criticize the President and Public officials all the time in everything from print and stand up, and I don't see anybody getting hauled into court and getting fined or put in Jail. Wise-up Nascar....you have already over-legislated "most" of the fun out of what was the greatest and most unique sport in the world, don't kill it altogether. We are Longtime racing fans, and the constant green-white-checker finishes are an every race deal now, and it sucks. My wife has said a number of times that if it continues she will stop watching. This from a women with a 60 year racing background, was a personal friend of Richie Evans, who I'm sure if he was still among us would say the same thing. Nascars "My way or the Highway" "You need us more than we need you" attitude has seen it's day. It's bad enough they have taken away a lot of the great tracks and replaced them with these boring cookie-cutter 1 1/2 mile freeways. They have all but destroyed the old Busch series with hardly any of these kids having a chance to win a race. How do you develop talent? As it is most of these corporate "developmental" drivers don't know anything about the cars themselves....have never actually "worked" on the racecars...they come right out of high school and get behind the wheel because they have learned how to drive from Video games....so some sponsor backs them in a car and they go and run a couple of years and fall on there face and you never hear from them again, because they don't know the cars and how to relate to what's going on with it....sort of like how Nascar can't relate to it's fanbase anymore......"Communication"....it's the name of the Game....like Sprint....(nice segue Huh.) Wise up Nascar and put the fun back in racing "FOR THE FANS"....Thanks for letting me vent. Peace out

PJ said...

I remember reading Denny's tweets that night and even gave my thoughts on it to him and to Gluck at the time. I didn't see anything at the time where I really thought Denny said anything out of line or that hadn't been said by other drivers and by fans over the last few years about the late cautions. Don't know if there were other times when he'd said more inflammatory things or not. Personally I don't have a problem with the drivers saying what they think. Now I'm not saying they should totally through Nascar under the bus and there are times when some things should probably be discussed behind closed doors first however when it's something the fans are already questioning/talking about let the drivers discuss it too. Besides we do live in a democracy (least it's still SUPPOSED to be one) where we have freedom of speech.

I certainly hope the drivers and any others in the sport don't stay away too long and that if/when they do come back to it that they are allowed to be themselves.

Tim S. said...

What's going to have more effect on a fan's perception? A driver you chose to follow speaking his mind, or a "TV personality" like Hammond (whom you have to put up with if you want to watch racing on TV, at leat for about half the season) telling you to get lost? Seems to me that Hammond should be fined for telling people to go away. But as others have said, millions of fans who don't even care about Twitter are long gone of their own accord.

allisong said...

Denny really just doesn't get it, does he?

The contention that NASCAR doesn't want him (or any driver) to be on Twitter is patently untrue. If he actually believes that his fine stemmed from the method and not the content of his message, he really must be thick-headed. He could have said the same things to an ESPN microphone, on the set of RaceHub, or even on the pages of the NY Times, and the reaction from NASCAR would have been the same.

I believe NASCAR does want the drivers interacting with the fans on Twitter, and there are so many positive examples of that continuing to go on.

Here are some suggestions for Denny, since he seems to have such a hard time coming up with things to comment on:

Brag on your team, or throw them under the bus, depending on your day.

Do like Kurt and tell us how you really feel about JJ and Jeff, since you clearly feel you're the better driver.

Tell us what you do on your "off" days, any hobbies, etc?

Do like DeLana Harvick and take questions from fans on race mornings.

See, Denny? It's not too hard.

K. Lee Davis said...

At ESPN.com, we have an offcial twitter policy.

I can't share it all here but it goes something like this: If ESPN is anywhere in your twitter handle, you're always on the clock with social media, you're always representing the company.

Here's my perspective and what I told my crew about twitter and other social media.

As a writer, you have not had the ability to share your written (and thus truly permanent) views unedited in all of history until recently. Someone has always checked your facts (hopefully), pushed you for better sourcing, held you accountable for mistakes.

With twitter, that is gone. Feel free to tweet. But remmber you are responsible for every tweet you make, every re-tweet you make and the spiraling loss of control over your image and the image of the company that goes with it. So be smart and be careful.

K. Lee Davis
Motorsports Editor
ESPN.com

p.s. Thanks for the forum, JD.

TheCarpenterKitchen said...

The 'individuals' who made the decision to fine Denny Hamlin certainly must not have understood Twitter-World. Like most NASCAR followers, I have my favorite's and certainly read their Twits. I also have my un-favorites and read theirs. In respect to Denny Hamlin, I read his with interest because they confirmed my original opinions about him. I enjoyed him perpetuating the stereotype that he is a whiner, a bad loser and projects on others that which he has done in the past but got away with. The Twits had ABSOLUTELY NO reflection on NASCAR, unless, of course, NASCAR has a guilty conscience. Will NASCAR fine the ad agency and sponsors of the tv advertisement that has the overweight Southern Sherrif eating in his car behind a billboard, lying in wait for speeders? Is that in poor taste? Repping NASCAR badly? HOW FAR WILL THEY GO?????