Feburrrrrary in Daytona
Topics: Daytona 500
Anyone that has been to Daytona this time of year realizes the inconsistency of the weather patterns. I left two feet of snow in Ohio when we started our journey down, only to arrive here and find it 33 degrees and raining side-ways with 30 miles per hour winds. It was enough that my usual Friday report was cancelled due to the Living Legends of Racing doing the same because of the foul climate. Daytona, compared to years past, is a preverbial ghost town, a shell of its former self in relation to race weekend. Only one hotel was spotted that displayed a "no vacancy" sign on Atlantic Avenue. The rest, walk in, get a room, and become cozy. There was no usual hype, no fan-fair, and my optimism grew weak as Saturday dawned.
Upon arrival at the track the rain had stopped, however it was 40 degrees with a 33 degree windchill and a 12 miles per hour wind. Only two-thirds of the normal pre-race events are in attendance this year including souvenier haulers, and a mere FIVE drivers were signing autographs. (Last year, we etched seven signatures and still didn't make the complete rounds. However, I was able to meet AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Burton (who blamed me for bringing the cold when he inquired of my hometown) this year. Both racers, true gentlemen, yet we could tell, plagued by the cold snap upon us. Each seemed more than happy to give their signature which is more than I can say for drivers of past. Jeff assured the crowd that the colder temperatures would increase the amount of grip the cars had on the track, therefore bringing the speed with it. AJ stated the only difference between Ohio and Daytona right now is that here in Florida, there are big time race cars. Suppose AJ has been to Ohio?
By the way, Rick Hendrick and his motorcade almost pancaked me to the pavement crossing the road to, well, answer the call of nature. That would have made front page for sure.
Yet, with the sarcasm aside, the Nationwide race proved to bring the heat as only 24 cars finished the race out of the starting 43. Sure, I wasn't happy about Cousin Carl taking out Keselowski, therefore taking out Dale Jr. but my original local guess was accurate in terms that Danica was going to get schooled. Not only did she attend class, but she ended up in detention. From a fan's point of view, she had difficulty staying in line which caused her to lose the draft. If she learns how to cut holes in the air, she will be less likely to get in the "back in the pack" big ones. I bet flat tracks end up being her "thang". Was a shame to see Front Row Joe come around turn four crippled, eventually stopping due to the hood blocking his view. He didn't have a winner, but he was doing well considering.
The amount of empty seats still proves to be alarming. I don't know how it appeared on television, but trust in the fact that the tumbleweeds were hiding in the shadows. The new COT for the Nationwide series isn't set to run until the July event at Daytona. I think NASCAR should step up that program, but who am I? Prices on food went up, as well as beer, which was something msot tracks were promising not to do to fans due to the economy. I guess when you are in Mr. France's back yard, he can crap in it as well and serve it with a smile.
Stay tuned for updates tomorrow night as we close out Speed Weeks with the 500. Right now, I am off for some dinner!
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