News & Media

Drivers applaud NASCAR's abandonment of secret fines

January 26, 2012, David Caraviello,

WELCOME, N.C. -- NASCAR's decision to forgo undisclosed fines and make such penalties public was met with early enthusiasm from drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.

"I think it's going to make it much clearer," Kevin Harvick said. "You look at the NFL, you look at Major League Baseball, the NBA, and really these fines have been no different than what you see players and coaches getting fined for in those leagues. It's just something that's going to be open now, and you just have to not watch what you say, but don't be a jerk about it toward the sanctioning body. The door is always open for you to go in there and talk to them and try to work through it. I think it's great that it's going public, and I think it will make it clearer, myself."

"If I'm going to get fined for something, I'd just assume everybody know about it. ... Every other sport does it, and they don't have major backlash from it."


Over the past two years NASCAR has fined some drivers for their comments without making the penalties public. This past November, Brad Keselowski was secretly fined $25,000 for comments critical of the sport's move toward electronic fuel injection. In 2010, NASCAR secretly fined Ryan Newman for comments he made about the racing at Talladega Superspeedway, and also secretly fined Denny Hamlin for comments he made on the social network Twitter.

The secret fines were typically issued for grievances drivers aired in public before discussing them with the sanctioning body. Wednesday, after a series of meeting with owners and drivers in the sport's top series, NASCAR abandoned the practice.

"NASCAR will no longer issue fines that are undisclosed," the sanctioning body said in a statement. "We looked at this issue from every angle and gathered feedback from the industry. While there are always sensitivities related to sponsor relationships and other leagues may continue issuing disclosed and undisclosed fines, NASCAR has decided that all fines moving forward will be made public after the competitor or organization that has been penalized has been informed."

The statement was released shortly before NASCAR's media tour trekked to the shop of Richard Childress Racing. Among RCR's three drivers, at least, the change was welcomed.

"I think public is the way to go," Jeff Burton said. "I mean, if I'm going to get fined for something, I'd just assume everybody know about it. ... Every other sport does it, and they don't have major backlash from it. If you have a problem, you can go to [NASCAR] and talk to them. They may not side with you, but they will listen to you. Because of that open-door policy, I have no problem with the [public] fine at all."

As recently as this past November, in the wake of Keselowski's secret fine, NASCAR chairman Brian France defended undisclosed fines as a way of protecting the sport's integrity. At the same time, France added that the practice would be reviewed. "If there's a benefit to announcing them to the public, to the media, we will take a look at that," France said in November. "... Maybe there is a benefit."

NASCAR apparently decided that was the case, as evidenced by Wednesday's statement. "We just had our annual NASCAR meeting, and they seemed to be very receptive to owners' and drivers' opinions," RCR driver Paul Menard said, "and if we put this out in the open, that's cool."