According to a nascar.com article posted today, drivers and owners were called into a last minute meeting before Friday’s first practice. The meeting preempting normal media events, leaving media to speculate what the gathering was about, most assuming it was about the impending multi-million dollar lawsuit against NASCAR by a former official, only to later be told by drivers that it was about quieting complaints about the COT:
“Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota owned by Joe Gibbs Racing, agreed that in his view the meeting was all about quieting public criticism of the new car. “It was just about the car and I think Mike [Helton] wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Hamlin said. “This is early in the building process and we don’t need to rush to conclusions that this car is junk and it’s never going to be any good — because that’s not going to be the case.’“
NASCAR officials however claim that the meeting wasn’t about stifling driver complaints but about fans:
“I think it’s good from time to time to remind them what we do, and that’s put on the races for the fans. The fans are the reason we’re all here.” Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications.
My thoughts are NASCAR probably DID tell the drivers to quit complaining about the COTs in public. I don’t think that is right though. It would be like the NBA telling players not to talk about the new basketballs they were playing with or like the NFL telling players they were gonna switch to a plastic ball and they can’t talk about the difference or the problems they are having adjusting to the new ball. However the fans are going to notice that the player are having a harder time throwing, catching, kicking or carrying the ball. So its not like NASCAR fans aren’t going to notice drivers driving differently. It’s natural to want to talk about it and the fans want to hear about it…from their drivers. Or at least I do. I want to know: Is the COT too hot with the extra protection added to the doors? Is the CO2 level in the cars more than it use to be? How can teams compensate for a car that has been described by some drivers not to be named “like a dump truck.” Putting a gag order on the drivers goes against what NASCAR claimed to be trying to get back to at the beginning of the season. They were wanting to get back to the “core” fanbase. Well you aren’t going to do that by telling drivers what they can and can not talk about. It makes the drivers too “cookiecutter” if they have certain taboo topics, like the cars they are driving. Maybe NASCAR did not get the memo…but isn’t racing about cars and people? That would mean the people couldn’t talk about the cars. Not a very bright idea.
**Shuttie is something my bff and I use. Its harsher than SSH! but less harsh that SHUT UP.