POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
For those of you that are new to the world of auto racing, I’ll put things in perspective for you. Imagine you went to the largest event of your favorite sport, and the event was rained out for over a day. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Lots of sports have weather delays. Do those sports also have a playing field that could potentially catch on fire? That’s what happened late Monday evening at the running of the 2012 Daytona 500.
The race finally started, almost 29 hours after the singing of the national anthem, and the racing world was more than ready for the 500 to begin. After all the preparations, and race teams cooling their heels the race got under way…until lap two. That would be when an anxious handful of drivers caused a pile up and took out some notable names in the race. Jimmie Johnson was taken out, as was Danica Patrick, although she would return to the race later on. The race would continue, without major mishaps, until former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, that is.
Known for being a loose cannon driver, Montoya described a “severe vibration” in his race car. Under caution, with NASCAR safety vehicles on the track, Montoya opted to proceed around the safety trucks at around 150 mph, instead of a slower, safer speed. Losing control of the car, Montoya violently smashed into a truck/jet dryer combo igniting his car, the truck and the track, on fire. Thankfully, there were no injuries to anyone involved, but the sight of 200 gallons of jet fuel igniting the famed Daytona asphalt on fire won’t soon be forgotten by anyone in the sport.
So, again, the racing world waited. With 40 laps to go, the delay to clean up the melted truck and debris took over two hours, while the drivers exited their cars, tweeted and basically hung out. When the race finally resumed, several cautions would mire the race’s finish, but when the dust settled, it was Matt Kenseth’s #17 that would head for victory lane for the second time in his career.
Almost 36 hours had passed from when the initial time the green flag was supposed to drop to the time of the checker flag. Not to mention, most of the teams would have to pick up and leave immediately since Thursday will be the first signs of life at the Phoenix raceway, the next race on the chart. It was a time of many firsts for Daytona, including the first night running of the race, and the first time the race had not been run on a Sunday. It’s a safe bet most race drivers, teams and fans of the sport will be ready for a return to something a little more normal, next year.