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Sons Of Air Titan On Site In Martinsville

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 28 2014

The new and improved Air Titan 2.0 is at Martinsville this weekend and may well be needed. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The days of dragging tires around a race track during a rain delay are long gone.

Over the past two decades, NASCAR tackled wet race surfaces with jet dryers.

In February 2013, NASCAR revolutionized track drying by introducing the Air Titan.

Today at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR officials unveiled a new-and-improved Air Titan 2.0.

Ironically, with a 70 percent chance of rain in the forecast for today and an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms projected for Saturday at the paper-clip track in south Virginia, the new technology which increases drying capacity over its predecessor by 200 percent may see action this weekend.

“When you look at the impact of a rainout to the fans, to our broadcast partners and to the tracks, it’s devastating,” NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell said in a morning press conference at Martinsville Speedway.

“The costs are huge. So when you looked all of those things and all our partners and everyone effect, it was a big deal.”

The newer version of Air Titan is similar to the original model but is smaller and capable of being deployed by a single pickup truck.

At Martinsville, NASCAR will have eight Air Titan 2.0s, four jet dryers and an Elgin sweeper on standby should rain fall on the .526-mile oval.

“The Air Titan 2 is a self-contained unit, it’s a low pressure unit, and it’s capable of team deployment and independent tactical deployment,” said NASCAR’s Gene Stefanyshyn. “So we’ll be able to pick these units individually and send them to the areas on the track where they need to be sent. We have a 20-unit fleet and a number of units deployed will be dependent on the track size.”

O’Donnell said other forms of motorsports are keeping an eye on the progress of the new drying device. He added that he can envision the Air Titan 2 eventually making its way to the grassroots ovals in the sport.

“You’ll be able to see, even with one unit out there, it gives that flexibility at a place like Langley Speedway,” he said. “Once we get this to where a Lange could very easily have one themselves, could share it between some local short tracks.

“As we all know in the short track industry, same as Cup, it’s devastating for a rainout. So anything that gives them the ability with the price point that they feel makes sense, we’re going to certainly chase that quickly for them.”

Air Titan 2.0 is capable of drying a 100 yard stretch of asphalt in 20 seconds. But O’Donnell said there is still room for improvement.

“There’s still a lot more work to do,” O’Donnell said. “We’re by no means at the finished product.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 28 2014
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