NASCAR holds closed-door meeting with drivers

Sprint Cup Series drivers and team owners were called to a mandatory, closed-door meeting with NASCAR this morning before practice at Michigan International Speedway.

The unusual eight-minute meeting, which took place in a windowless garage room as NASCAR officials stood guard outside, was held to remind drivers to not forget the fans, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said.

“We felt like this would be a good time to sit down, and [with] our ‘going-back-to-basics’ theme of the year, to remind them don’t forget the fans," Hunter said. “The fans are really going through a lot of hardships with the price of gasoline and all the sorts of things they have to do to get to a race."

The meeting caught teams off-guard, forcing some to juggle their schedules and postpone media sessions scheduled for Friday morning. Yet Hunter said the meeting was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

He said it was a reminder that drivers and NASCAR should focus on all the good things about the sport.

“We have more fans than ever before," he said. “We have more competitive teams than ever before. The racing is as good as it’s ever been. We have more drivers who can win on any given Sunday today than ever before. I think there are a lot of good things going on in the sport and sometimes they’re overshadowed."

But why now, with a meeting that seemed to be hastily called?

“We just felt it was a good time to do it," he said. “No particular [reason]."

Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said drivers were not told to stop criticizing the new car, which has been the target of numerous driver complaints over the past several weeks.

“No, they were simply reminded that we are a fan-friendly sport and the participation of our fans affects them directly," he said.

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