Above: The scene before this year’s Daytona 500 on pit road.
The prerace pageantry at Sprint Cup Series races that crowds pit road and blurs security is one of the topics set for discussion at Thursday’s scheduled meeting of the drivers council.
“I thought that the security on pit road last week (at Sonoma) was pretty bad during pre-race,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “So we’ll talk about that a little bit. Some of the drivers are concerned with how messy that’s getting considering what we have going on. We’re trying to get in the cars and it was crazy down there.
Denny Hamlin is the appointed leading voice of the drivers council and agreed with Earnhardt on just how much congestion forms around their cars prior to the command to fire engines.
“I agree last week that it was really hard to even walk to your car and it’s a very small pit road,” Hamlin said. “Things could definitely get done. I feel like each team should have a 10-foot square space around their car that is just designated for the driver and team … Honestly, they’re monitoring the crew guys from touching the car before the race, but the casual fan can do just about anything they want to the side of the car. It’s really crazy how much. For example, I’ve seen guys just fall over the hood of the car and put a dent in it.
“That’s more than any adjustment any crew guys could make. It’s something that could be addressed and will be addressed.”
The subject of unnecessarily long race weekends – like this weekend at Daytona – is also on Hamlin’s agenda, with drivers looking to truncate certain events from three days to two.
“Just on a personal level, why are we here for three days,” Hamlin said. “I think that’s the biggest thing because practice is very limited in speedway racing. I know it’s tough for the racetracks because they want to have people here as much as possible, but literally on Thursday, there really isn’t many people here watching practice.
“We could do it on Friday and qualify later. It’s one extra day for the crew guys. I mean, this is a holiday weekend somewhat, so let’s get these crew guys home in a timely fashion, I’d say.”
Earnhardt said that this year’s meetings have helped to solve issues.
“A lot of the things that we were loud about earlier this year has been cleaned up and a lot of the improvements we wanted have been made. So the conversation over the past couple of months has actually been pretty quiet. So then this meeting rolled around and it kind of has a business as usual feeling to it.”