"In my opinion, the first process to making our sport better is you've got to have open dialogue, you've got to have all the ideas out there as to what can make our sport better and safer."Denny Hamlin
Hamlin characterized it as a first of what he hopes are regular meetings with a specific council of drivers.
"We've been trying to get all our drivers together for about a year now, trying to get all our ideas in one room together," Hamlin said Sunday before the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway. "NASCAR knew we were trying to do that to form a line of communication, so they kind of helped us start a driver council, which gives us that forum to talk about things that we need to talk about."
Hamlin said the group was about eight or nine drivers and about that many NASCAR officials. NASCAR -- which has a history of discouraging organized factions within the sport, and once banned future Hall of Famer Curtis Turner for trying to form a drivers' union in 1961 -- declined to say which officials or drivers attended the meeting.
NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell shook his head in disagreement of the characterization of it being a drivers' council.
"We met with some drivers like we always do -- ongoing conversations that we always have [in] dialogue with the drivers," O'Donnell said.
Hamlin said the group of drivers who met with NASCAR would tell other drivers what was said at the meeting. He hopes this group can meet with NASCAR at least a few times a year.
"You can't have 43 guys in there -- it becomes counterproductive," Hamlin said. "There was a process to figure out who was going to be in those meetings, and I think everyone is well-represented, all the manufacturers, the guys from the top to the bottom in the standings.
"Overall, this is a good process to make our sport better. ... Everyone [from NASCAR] that was needed to make decisions was in there. The drivers were young to old, inexperienced to experienced, top of the standings to the bottom of the standings. It was very productive."
Sprint Cup drivers have been vocal about the need for energy-absorbing barriers around all tracks and also have been vocal about the current aerodynamic rules package and the difficulty of passing.
"It was good," Hamlin said. "In my opinion, the first process to making our sport better is you've got to have open dialogue, you've got to have all the ideas out there as to what can make our sport better and safer.
"All those things came to the forefront yesterday. ... You look around the room, and it's like, 'Wow.' This is a monumental time to where you've got the powers that be with some of the greatest drivers to talk about how we can make this sport better."