By AMANDA VINCENT
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Council has undergone somewhat of a makeover. The Council, created during the 2015 race season to give Sprint Cup drivers and outlet to provide feedback to NASCAR, was scaled back to nine drivers — down from 10 — and a few new faces are a part of the group.
According to a report Wednesday from NBC Sports, 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, reigning champion Kyle Busch and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson have been added to the group. Members on the Drivers Council remaining from last season include Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.
“The council that we have, they’re not the nine smartest guys; they’re just the guys that drivers voted for to represent them because we need a small group so that the voice is clear instead of having 43 drivers in there or whatever. That would be pretty noisy and messy,” Earnhardt said.
Each year, the previous year’s Sprint Cup champion and the top championship finisher from each manufacturer are eligible to join. The rest of the membership is filled out by a votes from all active Sprint Cup Series drivers.
The newer members of the Council got their first taste of being part of the group in January during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour.
“We’re already starting on 2017, things like that, some safety aspects about the race tracks and the cars, continuing on down that path,” Busch said. “I heard some of the past meetings weren’t quite as pleasant, but ours the other day was good.’’
Jeff Gordon was a part of the Drivers Council in its first year, but has been replaced, as he is no longer a Sprint Cup driver. Other drivers on the Council in 2015 but not a part of the group this year include Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray.
Last year, feedback from the Drivers’ Council was credited with the implementation of the lower downforce rules package tested at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 2015 and put into play for the duration of the 2016 season. According to drivers in the group, as reported by the NBC story, the Drivers Council also had a part in the new overtime rule that has changed the green-white-checkered format.
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