History made in Florida at NASCAR’s Daytona 500
Cancellation at NASCAR’s Daytona 500 made history on Sunday. The Great American Race didn’t happen! After several hours of much needed rain, the race was postponed for the first time in its 54 year history!! Tentatively, it is scheduled for noon on Monday, but that may not come to fruition because of the forecast that calls for even more rain. While it was already drizzling, the introductions did, indeed, start on time but after several hours of today’s downpour, the decision was made to postpone.
At this hour, as I stay tuned to the weather forecast, the best day seems to be Tuesday. Even then, however, there is still a chance for morning rain, the expectation being 1/2 to 2 inches of rain. Timing is of the essence for the Daytona 500, however. You see, NASCAR has another scheduled race in Phoenix (next weekend), as well as plans for the Daytona track in early March so transporting all those cars is sure to be a logistical nightmare! Additionally, in more ways than one, both safety and timing are serious concerns, not just for the drivers but also for the ticketholders! Even if the rain stops early on Monday, it takes up to two hours for the track to dry sufficiently. Add that to the average 3 to 4 hours for the actual 500-mile race and track officials become concerned about the time that the spectators would be sent home.
Although it was Mother Nature that levied this disappointment, NASCAR also has the struggle to be fair to so many disappointed race fans. There have been previous delays of the Daytona 500 (once to fix a pothole) but never an actual cancellation. Couple this with the fact that the race should have been run already, and the whole situation just becomes a sticky one!
Race fans are a devoted bunch, but the decision to cancel may cost NASCAR not only ratings, but attendance as well! Fans make travel plans well in advance throughout the year based on the timing of the race! This year, however, NASCAR moved the race back a week in order to avoid an early (NFL) bye week and any potential conflict with the Super Bowl. This marks the first time that the Daytona 500 was scheduled for the last week in February since 1968. It’s understandable that fans and drivers would be frustrated about the recent series of decisions. For one particular driver, it must be especially frustrating! Sunday’s Daytona 500 would have been the first of Danica Patrick’s 10 scheduled Sprint Cup Series events this season. Patrick left IndyCar racing this year for a full-time move to NASCAR. This year she will join the Nationwide Series championship driving for JR Motorsports.