Drivers met with NASCAR on Saturday in Dover (Update)

UPDATE Three-time NASCAR champion #14-Tony Stewart confirmed he was among a group of drivers that met with NASCAR officials for about two hours Saturday evening at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino adjacent to Dover International Speedway. Stewart came away impressed by the intent and encouraged by the content of the discussions. He said it was the first time in his 17 years in NASCAR racing he can remember this kind of informal get-together session between the sanctioning body and a group of drivers that also included Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle among others.

"They want to sit down, and they want to listen," Stewart told NASCAR.com on Sunday just prior to the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. I think it's just everyone staying on the same page which is good. It was a good thing, it was positive and makes me feel good about our sport that they want to keep everyone staying on the same page. I'd call it very, very positive." NASCAR.com

05/31/15 In a first of its kind, NASCAR met with a group of Sprint Cup drivers for about two hours Saturday night, discussing safety, competition, attendance and more. #11-Denny Hamlin, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., and #4-Kevin Harvick confirmed they were among about eight drivers in the meeting, which was held in the Kent Room at the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. It marked the first time that a council of drivers – selected by their peers – had met with NASCAR in such a formal setting.

"The drivers got together and organized a vote and all the drivers voted for the guys they wanted on this council," Earnhardt said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. "NASCAR asked us to do that so we could get together and just have a better ability to communicate. It's just a better way to have discussions."

A source told NBC Sports that NASCAR was represented by Mike Helton, vice chairman, and Steve O'Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, among others. "The drivers, we always talk amongst ourselves anyway, but having that open line of communication to NASCAR has never been this open before," Hamlin said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway.

"You look around the room and you're like, 'Wow, this is a monumental time to where you've got the powers that be and some of the greatest drivers talking about how we can make this sport better." The meeting comes after a recent spat of complaints from drivers about the rules and racing.

So what was discussed? "There was talk of competition," Earnhardt said. "What we think about the new package and the direction that they want to go and what we're doing with tires and testing." NASCAR recently came out with a rules update eliminating the 2016 tire testing at all Goodyear tire tests until October. Hamlin said safety was a big topic discussed. "We talked about a lot of safety issues we want to see changed at various racetracks," Hamlin said. "We went racetrack by racetrack, and I feel like we're going to make our sport better."

NASCAR did not offer details of the meeting. Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer, issued a statement: "NASCAR meets with drivers frequently on a wide range of topics. As part of our ongoing commitment to foster dialogue between all stakeholders, we've met formally with drivers on several occasions this season, including here at Dover. We'll meet with them again later in the season as normal course of business. The meetings have been productive and we find the dialogue very valuable." Hamlin said he's unsure how often the group will meet but expected it would be "at least a few times a year." NBC Sports

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