NASCAR Holds Michigan Meeting

NASCAR held a closed door meeting for team owners and drivers Friday at Michigan International Speedway to discuss the new Sprint Cup Series car and potential changes.

NASCAR president Mike Helton called the surprise meeting early Friday morning that according to Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter had been in work for sometime.

The purpose of the gathering was to address the criticisms aimed at the new Sprint Cup Series car.

Helton's words also addressed the current climate within the sport and its fans including the tough economic times many face.

"You've got to be careful when you start complaining and whining and acting like things aren't that great," said Carl Edwards. "It's detrimental to all of us and to the sport. He was making us aware of the weight of our comments, and you've got to take a moment and think about what we have here. I think that's a good little wake-up call there."

Hunter said the sanctioning body has been contemplating holding such a meeting and that Friday presented the best opportunity to adress what it considers important issues.

“We have more fans than ever before,” Hunter 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.

“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 seemed to hit home with most everyone in attendance including Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"My interpretation was that the drivers should be thankful for the position they're in and should be more positive in where this car is going to be in a year or two," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I think NASCAR is doing more than we give it credit for. They're thinking and working and trying and wanting to improve, and that we should, us drivers, should do less complaining.

"I was pretty critical and overly critical at times, and the only reason why the drivers are like that is because they want, we feel like our best avenue is through the media because it's very effective. But at the same time not only NASCAR reads those opinions, and it's not good for the sport.

"If I enjoy what I do and I'm having fun and want to be here and want to be around for a while, I shouldn't tell people not to buy tickets."

However Sprint Cup Series Director said drivers weren't told not to criticize the new Cup car publicly.

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

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