Hamlin expects his secret council to get bigger in the coming years; Expects mid-week races in the future
Dale Earnhardt Jr, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon sat down to come up with a plan of organizing the drivers voice. That was an idea spearheaded by Denny Hamlin.
They hosted their first meeting with a bunch of the drivers and even had paperwork filed. Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin then sat down at the mahogany desk to inform the heads of NASCAR on their plans.
“We step in the room and Brian France is in the room. Like, ‘ah they’re taking this pretty serious,’ ” Denny Hamlin explained via the Dale Jr Download of his meeting with NASCAR.
Less than 24 hours later, NASCAR formed their own driver council. Is was a group of drivers that would rotate. Denny Hamlin was one of the initial members of that group as was Dale Jr.
The group is put together by the highest finishing driver in the points for each manufacture. Other drivers are brought in with a vote. Currently, that council has 10 drivers.
Dale Jr: “Do you think that the council was a reaction to us trying to organize?”
Denny Hamlin: “Yes.”
Dale Jr: “Yeah, me too.”
With that move, their idea to form their own drivers council was dead in the water. However, years later, Denny Hamlin is again in a separate drivers council. This is something I haven’t heard of. He also thinks it will become bigger in the coming years.
“I’m a part of a different secret council now,” Denny Hamlin stated.
“I meet with all the industry leaders. You know, the track presidents, the team presidents and NASCAR. There’s just two or three of us drivers in that one. We talk to TV and things like that. Just on a bigger, broader subjects.”
“When we do the drivers’ council it’s more about competition. Where do we need to go with the aero package? Lets talk about security.”
“That is a bigger picture of schedule, formats. You know, big big changes within the sport. I was honored to get that message, ‘Hey, we want you to come to these.’ ”
Denny Hamlin has always been a part of things like this. Why do you like to be involved in communications with NASCAR on the future of the sport?
“I just want to sport to be better, healthy and stay on top. I just think we really do have a good thing here. In my opinion, it is healthy.”
“There’s new people coming in and checking out NASCAR. It’s still a very viable sport and I believe in it.”
“There’s some things that I would like to see changed. That [council] kinda gives me the voice to do that without having to go on social media and say, ‘this sucks.’ That doesn’t help anyone.”
“I like the ability to go in there and talk to the men in charge. Not just talking about the competition side. ISC has done some great things over the last couple years, updating these race tracks.”
“Hearing them say, ‘We’re doing better now at 60,000 seats. We’re making more money than when Daytona had 160,000 [seats]. It’s just because there’s fans sticking around and they’re in these social areas.”
“I firmly believe that asking someone to sit in aluminum bleachers for 4 and half [or] 5 hours is a tough ask now. They went to be in a Lexus stadium with cupholders and concierge coming to bring them a beverage. That’s just the way the world is now. We’ve become spoiled with the experience. It’s not just about the game.”
“I think they’re really smart and they hire the people that can tell them that. But, I think they give us a great platform to go in there and speak our mind and talk about schedule.”
What type of things does Denny Hamlin suggest? ” ‘Hey, can we get some mid-week races going on? How can we do that? Lets start it now.’ ”
“There’s some big things on the horizon. [Mid-week races] Yeah. I see it coming.”
“It definitely could go in some good directions. You got two networks right now. One’s ready to go and all for it. The other one’s like, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
“But, I see it. You’re going to see something in the next couple years on a Wednesday-Thursday.”
Dale Jr: “You see it in other sports. I don’t know why it would be successful in our sport as well.”
“I think this time of the year… No basketball, no hockey, no football we gotta be crushing it. We need to be at the forefront and we need to be on TV as much as we can.”
“The communication to NASCAR has been better the last 3-4 years than it’s ever been. Eventually, it makes sense to the drivers to create something that has some cohesion there and be more consistent for all the drivers.”
“It’s tough because not everyone’s on stable footing. Do they want to step out there and tell their owners, ‘Hey, I’m going to step out there and be a part of this drivers’ association’ or whatever it might be?”
“I think in the long term — Especially, with all this talk of the sale of NASCAR you gotta make sure that you’re protected. Now, if anytime is a great time for the drivers to get together and create something that’s a little more formal.”
The team owners have their own council with the ‘Race Team Alliance’. The drivers have a council too but it’s a little different as it’s a group of drivers put together under the eye of NASCAR. Denny Hamlin expects a different council to appear in the near future.
“It ain’t about getting paid more and things like that. But, there’s some things that drivers could definitely have a little better.”
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