Writing about racing. Most of it is NASCAR, but occasionally I write about other series too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daytona 500 repost from the Benicia Herald

NOTE: I am the Assistant Editor for a little paper called the Benicia Herald, out in Benicia, California. My partner in crime and star reporter (and fellow NASCAR nut), Donna Beth, was at Daytona, but missed the email saying it was ok for her to stay an extra day. That meant she was in the air when the race was going on. I covered the race, listened to the post-race press conference, etc. and wrote a lot of this. She added her perspective from being at the track and tied it all together. Our awesome editor put the finishing touches on it. Enjoy!

P.S. This story ran in the Sports page on February 29th, which doesn't get posted on the web site. Our other story was in the main section of the newspaper and did get posted. It can be found here.


Gordon, Montoya provide sparks in rain-delayed Daytona 500
By Keri Luiz
Assistant Editor
and Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Matt Kenseth grabbed the Daytona 500's checkered flag Monday night for the second time in his career and gave his owner, Roush Racing, its 300th NASCAR win in 25 years.

But his victory may be overshadowed by other events surrounding the 54th running of the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

The season-opener's start, scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, was delayed about 30 hours — unprecedented in the race's history — by a series of rain storms that refused to quit long enough for the track to be dried by the speedway's 10 jet dryers.

And 40 laps from the finish Monday night, the race and track were threatened by fire when, under caution, Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42 Target Chevrolet slammed into one of those dryers.

Montoya's crash ignited 200 gallons of jet fuel into an enormous fireball, damaging the track that had been resurfaced for the 2011 season.

"The biggest concern was the condition of the asphalt underneath the flame, underneath the truck," said Mike Helton, NASCAR president. "We were comfortable with the fact that the driver of the race car and the driver of the jet dryer were in pretty good shape." Removing the damaged jet dryer gouged the track's surface, Helton said, "but it's not uncommon to have gouges on a race surface."

The repair required a variety of materials to prevent a second ignition, including Tide detergent, which was used to cleanse the track of the jet fuel. The job took a couple of hours to complete — the same amount of time it took to fill a pothole that developed during the 2010 running of the race.