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NASCAR opens floor to drivers, owners
NASCAR officials spent more than four hours in two meetings Tuesday discussing with drivers, owners and team management everything from the sport's drug testing policy, to how to improve the new car, to the economy. It was a big change from the days when the governing body made decisions and solved problems by talking to one or two drivers in the back of a hauler at the track. All of those involved described the meetings as positive and expected more to follow in the future. "Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new form of communication," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. Chairman Brian France said open lines of communication are needed because "things are more complex."

"One-one-one meetings and trying to cover all the issues of the day either at a shop or at the track, that becomes hard to do," he said. "There are too many complicated issues. It was consistent with where we need to be. And we have a lot of smart people in the industry. We had Roger Penske here. We had a good communication line in the first place. We just want to build on that." Hunter said a lot of good ideas were broached, some that would have to be considered short term. He did not elaborate, but among those under consideration are double-file restarts with all of the leaders up front.

One of the biggest complaints coming in was the new car that many drivers and crew chiefs believe has hurt competition. Series director John Darby consistently has said no changes are planned -- that changes would create more problems. France said the governing body is more open to changes after Tuesday's conversations. "We think the car is putting on a good show," France said, "but clearly if there's some adjustments without changing the financial [structure], we want to be open to that. We heard some ideas that we're going to consider. They heard some reasoning why our thinking was staying put on the new car. It was a good exchange."

The drug policy that has been scrutinized since Jeremy Mayfield was suspended on May 9 was clarified. Drivers "scared" that a prescription drug could cost them their career left assured that was not the case. "I'm very comfortable now," Mark Martin said. "I'm also very comfortable with the way they're handling the list." NASCAR does not provide its drivers with a full list of substances they are tested for, arguing that leaving it open ended gives them more room to catch offenders. "I feel much better now than I did before the meeting," Martin said. France said he was quite certain everybody has a clearer understanding of the policy. "We covered that very carefully," he said. "There were some questions still remaining. Hopefully, we cleared that up." see full article at ESPN.com

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