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Woody: Pothole Whiners Should Put A Plug In It

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 18 2010
Potholes and not racing are what people are talking about this week. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Potholes and not racing are what people are talking about this week. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

We saw one of the most dramatic Daytona 500s in history last Sunday.

Close racing. A flurry of lead changes. Big pileups. A dramatic late rally by Dale Jr. An emotion-charged victory by charismatic young racer Jamie McMurray. A dramatic finish made possible by a radical new multiple-restart rule that will revolutionize the entire sport

So what have some pundits been jabbering about ever since?


A patch of asphalt came loose on the track and NASCAR had to stop the race to repair it. It came loose again, and again the race had to be interrupted.

There was a lengthy delay. So what? Unless you had a plane to catch, what’s the big deal? The Super Bowl had a halftime that seemed that long.

Granted it was inconvenient for fans who faced a long drive home that night, but they know a delay is possible any time they buy a ticket. Sometimes it’s rain. Sometimes it’s wrecks. Sometimes it’s a pothole.

I’m sure there were some viewers who got bored watching the pothole repairs, drifted away to old Andy Griffith re-runs, and didn’t come back. That’s their loss. They missed a heckuva ending.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but it seems that some folks have to find somebody to blame for everything bad that happens. It can’t simply be an accident or an act of nature. It has to be somebody’s fault. The fall guy in this case seems to be NASCAR.

I don’t get it. Is NASCAR supposed to be able to predict potholes?

NASCAR didn’t like the interruption any more than the fans in the stands or the viewers on the sofa. But I don’t see how it could have prevented it. If NASCAR can come up with a way to predict and prevent axle-busting potholes before they occur, I hope they sell their secret to the road crews in my town.

Sometimes NASCAR deserves blame for snafu’s and foul-ups. A classic example is the tire fiasco that occurred a couple of years ago in the Brickyard 400 when cars couldn’t run a dozen laps without a blowout.

Because the tires wouldn’t roll, heads should have. The blame began with Goodyear and stopped on the desk of NASCAR. It was NASCAR’s responsibility to make sure the tire people had done their jobs before the race started.

NASCAR deserved the heat it took for the Brickyard goof. But it doesn’t deserve blame for the asphalt problems at Daytona.

NASCAR can be an easy target and sometimes people can’t resist taking shots. I’ve popped off a few myself over the years when I thought they were deserved. But in general I think the folks in the big paneled office at Daytona do a good job. NASCAR deserves credit for its continued emphasis on safety, and more recently for dynamic rule changes designed to spice up the racing – at fans’ request.

My theory is that Digger was responsible for the hole in the track at Daytona. That makes as much sense as blaming it on NASCAR.

The simple fact is, nobody was to blame.

In racing, as in life, potholes happen.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 18 2010


  • Richard in N.C. says:

    The first week of Grand Am testing at Daytona it was cold enough for snow and/or sleet on the track – and frozen water expands and could have started cracks in the pavement. In any event, since the end of January, the 24 Hours, 2 Duels, a Truck race, and a Nationwide race were run all without problems. You can’t anticipate everything. Why I even hear it wasn’t cold enough for skiing at the Olympics in Canada.

  • tom1194 says:

    Nascar not to blame? You are absolutely right. It is the track owners responsibility to make sure the racing surface in ready to go. That owner knew that the area between 1&2 were coming apart,those bumps have been there for years and for years ICS has ignored the drivers and owners telling them about it.

    from wikipedia:
    During Sprint Cup testing in January 2008 and during the Budweiser Shootout in 2009, drivers complained about the grip of the track and the cracks and bumps on the surface.

    extra rain? in january 6 inches 50 miles away and 5 inches 20 miles to the north – normal for the month 3.2 inches. in florida in can rain 3 inches in an hour. the rain this year has been some over the norm but not catastrophic.

    Again ISC knew and ignored what roads do any of you know of that are 32 years old without being paved and you would go out and run 150 mph+ on.
    BTW the engineers that are determining the tracks health? A company which is a subsidary of ISC. Just tell them what they want to hear and there will be a little extra in your check next week.

    I wish “writers” and commentor would do a little background before the speak their wisdom. It took me all of ten minutes to find these facts.

  • JE Smith says:

    Everything you say is well and good. The problem is some of us have to work on Monday! After staying over 2hours watching the “three stooges” play with Elmers Glue we had to leave. Then are arriving home the DVR missed the finish because it was “only” set for i hour longer than the posted time. You can take up for NASCAR if you want! I’m out $3,000 for the last time. Shove it NASCAR and the whole family!!

  • SB says:

    No you can’t blame Nascar or Daytona for not anticipating the pothole. But I do find it rather inexcusable that they couldn’t figure out a proper way to fix it. Bondo? wouldn’t you think that, since their lifeblood is that pavement, someone there should be on call to know how to patch it properly? That’s just embarrassing.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    Very good article. Good to see there is someone in the media who can engage brain before writing. Thank you.

  • Rocket says:

    I guess I agree for the most part with the article. The track coming apart can’t be blamed on anyone. Stuff happens. What can be helped is the number of caution laps they run. They ran 7 laps of caution after the red was lifted. The TV knuckleheads said it was to make sure the patch was set. Why not wait until it IS set to start the race again? Over and over again they will run 4,5,6 laps of caution regardless of the track there on, or the reason for the yellow. Another thing, the commercials were so non-stop it was hard to even get a good flow going. And yet during the red, they could have run as many commercials as they wanted. Nope. Wait till the race starts again to run them. From now on, I’m going to record the race.

  • The0real0slander says:

    1. A circa-78 vintage asphalt laid out 32 years ago that sees regular high pressure abuse from high-speed vehicles and constant weather changes. Combined with…

    2. A track owned and operated by the same family/organization that has proven themselves time and again to focused on short-sighted profit margins and massive butt-covering, with the end result of disgusting and alienating the fans who had loved and supported the sport for decades.

    Conclusion: Pothole Apologists Should Put A Plug In It

  • DJ Mouw says:

    Te real racers.(Stewart,Edwards,R. Gordon, etc) never had a problem with the potholes and were more than willing to continue without the repair. Only Jr. and J. Gordon complained the loudest. Jr want to race on an freshly paved interstae system. My solution…put a cone on the da** thing and then any driver who hits the cone or drives under the cone automatically gets a 1 lap penalty.
    Dirt car racers learn how to race around dips & holes in the track.
    Growing up in the midwest potholes are just a way of life.

  • MartyC says:

    That’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along, right down to it being Digger’s fault! It’s been the “In thing” to blame Nascar for everything pretty much since people started posting on the web. It seems people LOVE negativity. It seems that it outweighs posting something positive about 10 to 1.

  • Michael Johnson says:

    Right on Larry. I see I’m the only one to comment so far . Nascar has done a lot of stupid things over the years but I really don’t see how they can be blamed for the rain and the pot holes. This is not the first time or the first track to have this happen. I give them a great big thumbs up for all the changes they have made this year . I guess its true , no matter how much good is done , people are always going to find something to complain about.

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