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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Newsflash: America’s most famous speedway needs pothole repairs

Call it a case of a huge buildup, leading up to an extreme mess.

Heading into Sunday, I was pretty happy with Speedweeks as a whole.

The ARCA race was decent, inbetween wrecks, and we got our first glimpse of Danicamania, and she did a pretty impressive job. And in a bizarre twist, we even got some bonus Nationwide practice coverage on ESPN2 “featuring Danica Patrick” (which is strange, since I thought a practice “featured” everyone on the track, but maybe I’m wrong.)

The Twin 125s had a couple of thrilling finishes. The Trucks entertained as usual, and the Nationwide race was also mildly entertaining, once again between wrecks (this is why Danica might have been wise to skip this race … unless you’re up front, you’re in big trouble. At least she stayed on her wheels, unlike her car owner. Regardless, she got some experience I guess.)

But Sunday was just frustrating. I would comment on the winner and the end part of the race, but I can’t … because I didn’t see it.

I was catching a flight back home, so I caught the beginning of the race at the airport. It seemed decent enough, but nothing spectacular. I was confident that my extra hour of Tivo that I had set my recorder for at home would be adequate to catch the entire race so I could watch it when I get home.

So when my flight landed, and I went home to see how the race went, I saw that something completely ridiculous had happened that would prevent me from seeing the end of the race – there was a damn hole in the track.

I though they were driving on I-94 for a second, but no … this was Daytona International Speedway, the most revered track in NASCAR … and it had a big hole in it.

While I’m not an engineer and can’t argue with NASCAR about why this happened (they apparently are blaming weather), I’m going to put my opinion in basic terms that every can understand … the Daytona 500 shouldn’t take 6+ hours to run because of crumbling roads. It’s an embarrassment to the sport, and equivalent to the World Series being stopped because of quicksand on the pitcher’s mound.

I recognize that the race had to red-flagged to keep the drivers safe, but problems of this sort need to be discovered before the race starts, not during the race. It’s the race most non-NASCAR fans take a look at, and they were laughing at the sport today.

Also, putting aside my personal annoyance, which means very little, many thousands of fans missed the end of the biggest race of the year because they had prior commitments and had to record it. This shouldn’t happen, and there were be a ‘hole’ lot of explaining to do by NASCAR in the coming days (sorry, couldn’t resist at least one stupid hole joke).

On top of that, I’m sure FOX isn’t too happy they had to provide 7 hours of NASCAR coverage (I know the NASCAR contract is a big one with FOX, but the Daytona 500 isn’t on the level of the actual Super Bowl, no matter how much we like it.)

Too bad this couldn’t have happened next week. I really don’t care most of the time what happens at Fontana.

The moral of the story. If NASCAR wants to treated like a major sport, as it should be, embarrassments like this can’t be tolerated. It’s just a shame it had to happen during the biggest race of the year.


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