NASCAR Cup Drivers Council adds four new members
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NASCAR Cup Drivers Council will have a different look this year with four new drivers on the group, which regularly meets with NASCAR officials to discuss on-track and off-track matters.
Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola are the new members. They join returning members Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.
The new drivers replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson.
Drivers earn a spot on the 10-member council based on their performance the previous year or by being elected by fellow competitors.
The group was to have met Sunday morning at Daytona International Speedway before the Clash was rescheduled from Saturday night.
Johnson told NBC Sports that the group added Blaney and Dillon as a way to get more young drivers involved. Elliott earned his spot as the reigning rookie of the year.
“It’s pretty neat to be involved,’’ Blaney told NBC Sports. “It’s nice that they wanted us to be a part of it. I’m excited to hear all the ideas that them and NASCAR have.’’
Almirola also said he’s honored to be a part of the group.
“Obviously, all the drivers have a voice, but the guys that go in and sit in the room are sort of the messengers and relay all the drivers’ feedback,’’ Almriola told NBC Sports. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to see how that whole process works.
“To have the opportunity to not only be a driver in this sport and have a voice and be on the Drivers Council and use that platform to hopefully make a difference … is going to be really cool.’’
The Drivers Council has played a role in a variety of subjects from security on pit road to the format for last year’s All-Star event to the push for a traveling safety team. Last year, the Council offered to pay Tony Stewart’s $35,000 fine after NASCAR punished Stewart for critical comments about lug nuts.
Also, Hamlin and Keselowski represented the Council in NASCAR meetings that shape the sport’s format enhancements for this season.