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Jimmie Johnson on drivers council: ‘We want to make sure our voices are heard’

FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks - Practice

FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks - Practice

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Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson says that the rules package is the priority for the newly formed Sprint Cup drivers council.

Johnson is not on the council, which held its first formal meeting with NASCAR officials last weekend at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, but made those comments Friday at Pocono Raceway after being informed of what took place.

Drivers have been vocal about the racing and the rules after NASCAR gave indications recently that changes to the car for next season might not be as dramatic as drivers hoped.

“The rules package is a hot topic,’’ Johnson said. “I feel like we’re in a environment right now where there is going to be more change and trying to make the right decisions is important. I feel that the drivers, we’re living it inside the car. I know there’s a lot of simulation and technology out there to kind of say what will happen, but we want to make sure our voices are heard and the people that make the decisions know what’s really going in the car, what we’re thinking and how we’re faced with challenges. In today’s world right now, its the rules package that is the priority from the drivers council.’’

Jeff Gordon called the meeting “one of the coolest things I’ve seen happen in this sport since I’ve been in it. I only wish it had happened long before my final year.

“I think we are all on the same page and always trying to pursue the best for the sport, but we have done it in a different way; whether individually you go and have those discussions or it’s happening via other routes. To be able to sit in a room and have a lot of drivers that have a unique perspective on it I thought the panel was fantastic. I thought the openness of the conversation was amazing. I thought that it was all very positive.”

Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer, issued a statement last week that officials have met with drivers on various topics before:

“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.”

Johnson’s comments come a day after former champion Brad Keselowski said he felt the main topic for the drivers council to pursue was the aerodynamic impact on cars.

“Aerodynamics are really cool from an engineering standpoint and showcase all the technology in the sport that perhaps gets written off as not having a lot of technology,’’ said Keselowski, who is not on the council.

“To that end game, it also creates a lot of issues with our product to our fans. As the cars get faster by themselves with aerodynamics, they get slower in a pack because they drag each other down. That really prohibits the side-by-side passing and a lot of things we like to see as race fans and competitors that make the wheels of our sport go around, which is the fans and their happiness.’’

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