Monday night’s Daytona 500 was a harsh one by anyone’s standards. Rained out on Sunday, the race had to be run on Monday night. So after a 36hour delay, the race got under way—for about a lap and half before there was a major crash taking out notable drivers such as the 2011 champion and Danica Patrick. The flow was further hampered by more crashes then brought to a halt when Juan Pablo Montoya (no relation to Indigo Montoya from the Princess Bride) crashed in a jet engine powered track blower and setting off a fireball. That stopped the race for over 2hours.
And I have a problem with that stoppage. At that point the race was passed the 50% marker and a result could have been called, but the organizers decided to see if they could get the track repaired in a reasonable time. In the light of Dan Wheldon’s death last year and claims that unnecessary risks had been taken, I felt NASCAR were taking one with the track surface after it had been scorched with jet fuel. If an accident occurred as a result, NASCAR would have had no defense.
That said, I understand the need to finish the race. When a race is seemingly jinxed, you just want to finish come what may. I was in a race where cars were crashing left and right and I was determined finish this race even if I had to carry my car across the line. And when the marshal stopped in front of me one the last corner of the last lap and tried to tell me my race was over, I drove straight him. I earned my finish. So yes, I get it. You finish what you start.
But I felt the 500’s race stoppage was the last straw and a result should have been called, not because the race was under caution longer than they were racing, but because it looked unprofessional. The 500 was reduced to a circus act and that’s just bad business for the sport.
Agree/disagree? Let me know.