Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tearing Up The Track: Daytona Edition

Asphalt can be used to caulk boats. The first ever photograph involved asphalt in the printing process. Of course, asphalt can also be used to pave roads… or racetracks. In 1979, asphalt paved Daytona, but it’s gotten in rough shape in the 31 years since. It’s time for a change.

I’m not going to go into a discussion of this history of this particular surface – if you’ve managed to find this blog, I’m sure you already know.

Every driver this weekend lamented over Daytona’s imminent repaving, all of them remarking about the incredible “character” the track has. Instead of purely racing each other, the drivers have had to race the racetrack the past few years as well.

Here’s the thing: it was going to have to be repaved eventually, and the time has come. Asphalt doesn’t last very long – trust me, if you had to drive on an interstate with 31-year-old asphalt, you would try to find a detour.

Daytona’s asphalt was beginning to degrade – eventually, given a little rain, the cracks in the surface would become “weepers,” continually pumping out underground moisture while workers try fruitlessly to dry the surface.

We saw in February the damage that could be done by too many cars bottoming out in one spot. While that spot has been fixed, the track isn’t getting any smoother. NASCAR cannot afford another snafu like that in another Daytona 500 anytime soon. Grand-Am races the 24 Hours of Daytona, not NASCAR (and Grand-Am has racing for the full 24 hours).

The track surface had gotten so worn out that it now has absolutely no grip. That, combined with a bumpy track surface, had drivers absolutely out of control on old tires Saturday night. At the end of a run, TV viewers could see drivers simply lose it with no one around them. At Daytona’s speeds, that is wreckless, and it’s not going to get better with time.

Yes, the track had some great character and it’s a shame it can’t stay like that forever. But, Daytona has to fix it before it develops some serious problems. We’ve seen tracks with serious problems before (Martinsville, Darlington, etc) before, and NASCAR cannot afford to let Daytona get that way.

You know what? The racing on the old surface was great, but a new surface will bring about a style of racing that is also great for the next few years.


The Tool of the Week

This week’s Tool of the Week is the Jay Robinson Racing crew member in the Nationwide Series that left the lead/tungsten ballast loose in Mark Green’s no. 49 machine.

As Green was entering the track, the ballast flew out of the car directly into Reed Sorenson’s, no. 32, path. The ensuing carnage also collected Steve Wallace, no. 66.

Last week, I wrote about the perils of debuting the new Nationwide Series car at Daytona. Though it wasn’t a big wreck from pack racing that destroyed a good chunk of these team’s limited fleets of new cars… the fact still remains that these teams still have a limited fleet of new cars. The last thing anyone needed to do was run over a chunk of lead.

Look: remove the cover, insert the lead, put the cover back on, and screw it in.

What a tool.

Do you have a better Tool of the Week? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook.


The Racing Tool Goes to Chicagoland

This Friday and Saturday, the Racing Tool will be in Chicagoland for the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races.

Follow @racingtool on Twitter and Facebook to see live tweets and pics from the tracks.

-David Dubczak

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