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Drivers, Fans Didn’t Dig Pothole

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 14 2010
Work crews work to repair damage to the Daytona International Speedway surface.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Work crews work to repair damage to the Daytona International Speedway surface. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Mike Harris | Senior Writer

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Robin Braig, president of Daytona International Speedway, has no immediate explanation for the pothole on the track that caused two long interruptions of Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“As we do for every event, we inspected the track this morning and there were no concerns,’’ Braig said in a prepared statement. “We are always prepared for these types of issues. We had the proper materials and worked diligently to repair it.

“The delay in repairs was caused by the unusually cold ambient temperatures. After this event, we will evaluate these effects from the weather and will make the necessary adjustments.’’

The pothole, initially about 9 inches by 15 inches and 2 inches deep, was at the bottom of the banked oval in the second turn, at the edge of the racing groove. The front end of several cars sustained damage from running through the pothole before the race was halted the first time for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The material used for the first repair did not bond and was torn up by the race cars after 35 laps. That necessitated a second delay of 44 minutes as another material was used to fill the hole.

“Our first batch of repair material didn’t hold,’’ Braig said. “That was a mistake on our part. We used the wrong type of material. It didn’t hold at all.’’

He added, “The second one held. We felt good about, apologized for the lengthy delay. We take full responsibility. We’ve got to get better at doing our patchwork.’’

The track, which has not been repaved since 1978, is scheduled to undergo a $20 million resurfacing in 2012.

Some fans were angry about the delay and complained that the resurfacing should have been done several years ago.

“We’ve got to look and see whether it was the gourge from the cars in that dip there and we’ll evaluate that. It may not need repaving. 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.’’

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second to winner Jamie McMurray, said he didn’t believe the pothole or the delays changed the outcome of the race.

“A couple of guys got some holes in the front of their car. That change the outcome of their day. As far as the finish, (it) didn’t have nothing to do with it,’’ Junior said.

THE KING’S LADY: Racing icon Richard Petty said Sunday that his wife’s lymphoma is “aggressive but treatable.’’

Lynda Petty is being treated at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center. She was diagnosed with lymphoma about six weeks ago.

“It’s a very rare form of cancer,” Petty said. “It’s very aggressive, but it’s very treatable.’’

He added, “We’ve already had a couple of treatments, and she’s went through them real good. … They feel like they can completely wipe the cancer out. It will take a little while to do it.”

The seven-time NASCAR champion, now co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, said, “I went in yesterday morning and she was jumping around and she said, ‘Get out of here, get on to Daytona,’” Petty said. “So I know she’s feeling pretty good.”<

COMPETITIVE DAY: Despite the interruptions to repair the pothole, the racing Sunday was some of the best ever at Daytona.

There were 52 lead changes among a record 21 drivers, led by 2008 Daytona winner Kevin Harvick with 41.

But Harvick, who was leading at the start of the second and final two-lap overtime, wound up a disappointing seventh in the last-lap melee.

“It was wild,’’ the Richard Childress Racing driver said. “The No. 99 (Carl Edwards) doesn’t really know where he’s going. He went to the middle and jammed it all up. I just wish we knew we had somebody behind us who knew how to draft.’’

Edwards finished ninth.

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 14 2010
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