Start your engines and head to NASCAR, Feb. 27, 2012
Daytona 500, Delayed Start
Today at noon is supposed to be the delayed start of the Daytona 500. But the day has been cloudy, with some wind, and then rain, with some of it absolutely pounding down. We heard around 10 a.m. that the race had now been postponed until 7 p.m. So hurry up and wait. But I am living a piece of history as it's the first time ever the Daytona 500 race has been postponed until the next day. Usually if there is some sort of rain delay, it's only for hours, not for more than a day like this time. I've decided to stay for the duration, either for the race or the cancellation. I'm in!! I may end up here until the azalea festival that Kendra is trying to get me to stay for, except that's a month away. No can do. Sorry, Kendra and Sean.
|Cute little lizard.|
We all just lazed around, sat on the front porch watching little lizards, an egret in the yard next door, pelicans, eagles and what appears to be loons out in the river and relaxing. It's been a hectic week so the down time for awhile is nice.
|The egret was checking out flowers in the yard next door. Fake flowers or not?|
But during this time I've decided to start another blog … but don't know when I'll get it loaded as I've only just started to write it. I'll let you know, but it does have to do with Beagles. Imagine!!
Joe, Jeff and James have been working on a smoker, so I went out to admire it. It's nearly a thing of beauty and when heated up will be able to do a lot of smoked meats as it's huge.
|Joe, Jeff and James showing off the new smoker.|
|Joe and Jeff with a different view of the smoker.|
We decided to all go have a bite to eat at a Red Lobster (love those) and then Joe, Verlie and I headed to the track to get ready for the start of the race. It was a breeze getting there today, although the stands were pretty full. It appeared that not too many people left after the delay on Sunday and they, too, were here for the duration.
The 54th running of the Daytona 500. I was there. History was in the making, and that would continue throughout the night.
Mother Nature was cooperating and at 7 p.m. it was start your engines, tuck in behind the pace car, drop the flag and let the race begin. The race was on.
|Start your engines.|
Right into the first turn of the first lap and the action began. A six-car pile up knocked a couple of vehicles out right away. My girl, Danica Patrick, was mixed up in the fray but did some fancy driving and avoided three vehicles, driving right between two of them. Holy cow, that was exciting and some fancy driving. She went to the pit and got her tires changed and her crew tried to pull the fenders away from them, but the damage was done and appeared to be extensive and off she went to the garage for repairs. The crew had to replace a lot of parts and pieces, and it wasn't just cosmetic. Like the previous day, she was out for a number of laps, about 60 this time, but did get back into the race later. She finished but was way down in the pack.
|Crew members looked at Danica's car to try to determine problems. Check out the Bare-bond on the hood.|
After a delay, getting the dead vehicles towed and the track cleaned up, the caution lights went out and the race began again. The cars ran the gears and they were running the chip (fast as they could go) or WFO!!! Excitement was in the air as the fans were on their feet watching the near-200-mph speeds, with the cars mere inches from the car in front of them. They were drafting in a different manner early in the race with the bump drafting not yet being the order of the day.
I'd wondered about the drafting and how competitors draft with each other. The spotters for the crews are the ones that tell the drivers if someone is coming up to draft with them as you have the opportunity to go faster as a team of cars rather than individually.
Drafting is a lot more interesting and strategic than I'd thought. And there are the different kinds of drafting. Mostly we just saw them close to each other, then later in the race there was the bump drafting where the cars are actually touching, with this type being done on the right rear bumper. Doing that on the left rear would knock the car up and turn it. Even doing it properly can turn a car, and sometimes drivers do it deliberately to get someone out of their way. That's called a “bump and run.” The bumper wants to get by the car they bumped, and it doesn't always result in an accident. But it does cause the bumped car to have to slow down and lose speed so the bumper can speed by them.
Then during a pit stop a tire came off one of the cars (Ryan Newman's) and went flying through the pit area. The car that lost the tire made a sudden stop and another car rearended him. There was just so much going on, and it wasn't the ordinary stuff I'd been seeing up to this point.
At the halfway point, (100 laps in the 500) the driver in the lead collects $200,000. Martin Truex, Jr. had been back in the pack, but he made his move and got to the lead in time to collect. Then he dropped back to Number 2, and ended up finishing 12th in the race.
Lap 160 was another historical moment in the race. Juan Pablo Montoya, Car Number 42, with the Target sponsor, came out of the pit and around the track alone. Going into turn 3 something in his car snapped and broke and he made contact with one of the jet dryers on the track. Montoya spun out and wrecked his car and it caught fire. The jet dryer had been hit in the fuel cell which ruptured, caught fire and burned. About 200 gallons of jet fuel burned across the track with part of the dryer melting into it and causing what looked to be a huge gouge across the track. The fire burned long and hard, and flames shot into the air. Luckily everyone was safe although the dryer driver door had been crunched in and the driver needed assistance with his exit. The cost of the jet dryer and the truck is probably about $100,000, with the dryer piece running about $60,000 alone.
|The jet dryer fire (lifted from the replay screen).|
|Putting out the fire (lifted from the replay).|
The red flag went up and drivers were at a standstill in the backstretch. No one knew how long it would be. The fire had to be put out, the liquids cleaned up and the integrity of the track determined. Interestingly, they used the oil or speedy dry to sop up the vehicle liquids. Then they swept it off the track. It still makes me think of kitty litter or sand. Afterward they used Tide Detergent to clean the track and hosed it all down. Great advertising for Tide, and all for free. Maybe they want to be a sponsor? If they are, I didn't see it.
|Soaking up the liquids (lifted).|
There were 26 safety and emergency vehicles used to contain and put out the blaze, check out the drivers and clean up the area, including the fire truck I'd seen the other day with the Daytona sticker on the doors. Two forklifts were used to remove the destroyed dryer from the track.
|The jet dryer is being moved off the track (lifted).|
|The gouge runs from the wall across the track (lifted).|
I talked to a couple of guys sitting behind us. Four of them had come from Prince Edward Island in Canada, three for their very first Daytona 500, too. So we chatted about Canada since I'd ridden there in 1997.
From the backstretch in the Number 2 car Brad Keselowski, the kid I like who's from Michigan, was Twittering and sending photos. No one knew he carried a cell phone in his pocket, and apparently that included his crew chief. This when they try to pare ounces from the weight of the vehicle. Too funny. So you can't escape cell phones even in a car race.
Once the officials surveyed the damage the track was patched and a line of people stood on either side of the repaired area and used leaf blowers to dry the patchwork.
At about 11:15 p.m., a half hour before the work was completed, there were some sprinkles and we were sure hoping that we wouldn't have another rain delay as Joe and Verlie were to drop me at the house after the race and drive to Orlando to spend the night as Verlie was flying out Tuesday morning. They weren't going to get much sleep as the race didn't get over until 1 a.m., Tuesday.
|Drying the patch (lifted).|
At this point they loaded up a shuttle bus with one crew member per driver and they were led by a Harley motorcycle cop to the backstretch. Another first, by the way. They went to check their drivers out and make sure they got back into their vehicles and had everything intact, including their window nets being tight, prior to the red flag being lifted. Two hours and six minutes and the red flag was lifted, and the race went to a caution. The green flag came at 12:09 a.m. (according to my Iphone time) with 35 laps to go. Would we make it the rest of the way?
Lap 186 or 187, and then another pile up with a couple more cars being demolished. At first look one of my guys, Joey Logano looked to be the cause, but in looking at the replay he didn't cause it. But with all of his mixing it up with others, I'm thinking I might have to get rid of the orange Number 20 Logano shirt I'd bought, without a single wearing. Dammit. Possibly a poor choice on my part, but I do love the color orange, and the car really stands out in the crowd. But Danica is my Number One!! Lime green and neon orange numbers. Oh yeah!! Very easy to spot.
At this point everyone was running the chip, WFO, and cars and drivers were jockeying for position and making their moves. Things had heated up and bumps going on.
By Lap 200 it was the first green/white/checker. One time was all it took with Dale Jr. making his move, but not getting to Number 1. He finished second, and the winner (his second time) was Matt Kenseth of the Number 17 car, Best Buy. I was just there the other day.
I learned so much this week, and just in a single evening there was so much happening and I was always asking questions. So, what else did I learn? 1. Cars that spin out or crash, even close to the pit area, cannot be attended by a crew. The wrecker has to come tow them back to the pit area. 2. When there's a red flag the drivers cannot do any alterations to their cars. Tonight Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch tore off a layer of the film on their windshields and then had to go to the back of the pack.
It was a race that made history for a number of things that had never happened before. And I was there – a Monday start, running under the lights meaning a night race, a jet dryer burning up, a red flag where a crew member for each team was shuttled out to the drivers to be sure they were back into their vehicles properly, and a two-day race since it went into Tuesday. Wow!! How can I ever come back again? There's been so much excitement in this week of racing that everything after this will be dull and boring. NOT!!! Loved it, enjoyed it, plan to come back.
And it didn't hurt to be with good friends, enjoying the wonderful hospitality of James and Elaine and some great breakfasts by our personal Breakfast Chef, Joe. Having Sue and Jeff with us just added to the fun and it was like a giant slumber party for 11 days. Thank you everyone for making my first time a great time.