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Originally published Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

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Kyle Petty supports Hamlin's freedom of speech

Kyle Petty is backing Denny Hamlin in the driver's dispute with NASCAR.

The Associated Press

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LAS VEGAS —

Kyle Petty is backing Denny Hamlin in the driver's dispute with NASCAR.

Petty, the former driver and current Speed analyst, thinks Hamlin's $25,000 fine for unfavorable comments about the Gen-6 race car was an overreaction by stock car racing's governing body.

"Just because it's NASCAR's ball and their ballpark and they make the rules doesn't necessarily mean that there can be censorship, and there appears to be a lot of censorship in this fine," Petty said. "NASCAR wants drivers to have personalities and character and to express themselves, but only if they say positive and not negative things. I don't know anyone who can do that."

"I'm going to buy me a Denny Hamlin hat and T-shirt, because drivers should stick up for themselves," Petty added. "It's hard to believe that this sport has come to this, where we fine drivers for comments. Whatever happened to fining drivers for big motors and illegal bodies and cheating on the track? Now it appears they don't have a right to have an opinion off the race track."

Petty won eight races during a 30-year NASCAR career ending in 2008, but he suspects his outspokenness might not go over well if he was still driving.

"I could not survive in this sport as a driver at this time," he said. "I'd be paying a fine every week. I'd be broke."

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