In Spring of 2015, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series sanctioning body setup a Drivers Council, allowing its drivers to add their input to the shaping of the future of the NASCAR sport. Going into its third season, some drivers have dropped off the council, being replaced by new drivers.
This year, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola were added, replacing Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, and Kyle Larson — all of which were on the council for its first two years.
The original 2015 Drivers Council consisted of Earnhardt, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Stewart, Larson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, and Clint Bowyer.
Gordon, McMurray, Biffle and Bowyer rolled off last year, being replaced by Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
The active drivers communicated regularly using a group text on their cell phones, holding official meetings with NASCAR every couple months.
A lot of the recent changes we’ve experienced in the sport have been affected by the NASCAR Cup Drivers Council. Some of these changes include the overtime rules from late last year, the format for last year’s All-Star Event, as well as this year’s addition of the traveling safety team.
The Council also offered to pay Stewart’s $35,000 fine in 2016, after he was critical about NASCAR’s handling of the lug nuts.
Last year, the Council met and discussed topics like tires, race day operations, and the 2017 aero package.
The newest additions to the nine person Council are all focused on youth, with Elliott, Dillon and Blaney all just in their first couple of full-time seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Originally, drivers have the chance to be a part of the Council via two ways: 1) the top finishing driver for Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford the previous season, 2) the top finishing driver with less than three seasons of experience.
When formed, the remaining spots are filled by driver votes from the following categories: two drivers from the top 10 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 11-20 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 21-30 in points from the previous season; and one driver with the most votes who doesn’t fit into the categories.
It’s not clear if these criteria have been fully abandoned, or just loosened with the addition of Elliott, Dillon, Almirola and Blaney.
Source: NBC Sports – NASCAR Cup Drivers Council Adds Four New Members