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DATE News (chronologically)
02/15/10
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DIS president apologizes for another NASCAR black eye  Ed Note: We were discussing the very same thing. You have never seen the Indy500 stopped for a pothole, and they are up north and have to contend with frost heaving and all kinds of other challenges. They haven't repaved that place forever. We are glad to see them be humble about it and take all the blame...well...who else would you blame? But to say it publicly is good to see. Now they need to make sure it never happens again.

Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig apologized for a hole developing in the track that resulted in two delays for a total of 2 hours, 25 minutes Sunday during the Daytona 500.

Track workers failed in their first attempt to patch the hole – 9 inches wide by 15 inches long by 2 inches deep – after the race was stopped and had to try at least two other materials during a delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes on lap 123. The hole got twice as big and the race was stopped again at lap 162 for another 45 minutes. DIS used putty to fill the hole enough to run the remainder of the event. The hole was in the racing groove between turns 1 and 2.

“We’re the world center of racing,” Braig said. “This is the Daytona 500. This is not supposed to happen. … I apologize for it.

“This is hallowed ground. We understand that. We accept the responsibility.”

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said he didn’t know how the delays would impact the television ratings.

“Obviously it’s not good for the fans,” Poston said. “It’s not what you would rather have. But anyone who’s been a fan of racing very long has sat through rain delays and sat through other things like this. … Obviously, ratings fluctuate for a lot of different reasons.

“What we do know is those fans who did continue to watch throughout the day saw great racing and a great finish.”

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said there was not much consideration of calling the race official without going the full distance.

“We’ve been through issues like this, whether it’s weather or other things with the surface,” Pemberton said. “We were going to push through and do what we could and get the race finished, and finished under green for the fans.”

The track hasn’t been repaved since 1978, and Braig said tentative plans were made to possibly repave in the next five years but wasn’t sure if the hole will accelerate the plan.

Drivers have debated whether the track needs to be repaved, with some saying the bumps give it character and others saying there’s not enough grip.

“They should have repaved it several years ago,” driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “We’d have it all weathered and ready to go right now. It would be in good shape.

“But it will get there again one day. It wasn’t paved, hasn’t been paved since 1978. It’s due, I would say.”

Countered Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards: “I’m nervous now that there’s a little scuff in the asphalt, they’re going to want to repave this place. That’s the last thing they should do. It’s a lot of fun driving out there right now.”

It would cost about $20 million to repave the track, Braig said.

“It may not need repaving,” Braig said. “We’ve been told by the drivers, crew chiefs, NASCAR, Goodyear, that the uniqueness of this track is special. … We don’t want to repave – paint the whole house – when all we have to do is a little touch-up.”

Braig said one of the issues of the hole was that it was in a dip and in a shaded area where it was 44 degrees, compared with 58 degrees for much of the remainder of the track.

“It couldn’t have been in a worse spot,” Braig said. “We’re not sure whether we had pavement failure or perhaps a car dug into it and lifted the pavement out. We have to study that, evaluate that.”

An analysis also will be done in order to be able to patch the track quicker in the future, Braig said.

“We take full responsibility,” Braig said. “We’ve got to get better at doing our patchwork. If we have to do it again, we have to figure out the compounds. We’ve really got to understand the temperature and the heat of the pavement. We just couldn’t get it to bond.” SceneDaily.com

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