THE DAYTONA 500 – Rained out, but not washed out

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH, LEAD STORIES, NEWS, SPORTS

Some fans would like to see big race happen on different weekend

BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
DAYTONA TIMES

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry addresses the crowd at the start of the Daytona 500.(PHOTOS BY DUANE FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry addresses the crowd at the start of the Daytona 500.
(PHOTOS BY DUANE FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

“I feel like a wet dog,” Judy Einclart groaned as she and hundreds of others clad in ponchos were ushered through the JC Penny corridors of Volusia Mall Sunday around 3 p.m.

Tornado watches loomed over Central Florida delaying “The Great American Race” for six hours and 22 minutes. The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series motor race held annually at the Daytona International Speedway.

“Every year it seems like something is happening at the Speedway. We were rained out in 2009 and had to wait until the evening in 2012 because of rain. Back in 2010 they had to stop the race because of a pothole.”

140227_dt_front02bAlways something
Einclart knows her NASCAR. The race was postponed due to weather in both years and a pothole erupted on the track in 2010 delaying the race for two hours.

In 2012 rain caused the usual Sunday afternoon race to run on a Monday night for the first time. It ran in the evening hours again this year following the onslaught of rain.

“We tried to save money on parking by parking at the mall, but I would have given another 40 bucks not to have to walk through all of this,” Einclart remarked, adding that she and her husband were heading back to the hotel but would venture out again when the race restarted.

Fans watch as racers zip by during the Daytona 500 on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway.(PHOTOS BY DUANE FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

Fans watch as racers zip by during the Daytona 500 on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway.
(PHOTOS BY DUANE FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

“It’s like we get to go to the 500 twice.”

Fans: Move the date
Other race attendees think it may be a good idea to move the race to the weekend prior.

“You can have the race on Sunday but if it does rain out, more people can stay through Monday and attend the race because of the President’s Day holiday,” Tyler Magee, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) student said. “We were miserable.”

140227_dt_sports01bAdded Elissa Headon, “There is no coverage at the Speedway when it rains.’’

Headon and Magee had to make the 1.5-mile trek back to ERAU after the race was postponed but said after they returned they enjoyed it overall.

Twitter goes wild
While waiting for the race to restart, a broadcast of the 2013 Daytona 500 was shown on the Fox network. Unfortunately, throngs of viewers didn’t realize that it wasn’t live and began tweeting updates to the race and giving last year’s winner virtual high fives.

The snafu was so bad that one of the Fox affiliate stations even congratulated Jimmie Johnson and had to retract the greetings.

Clint Bowyer tweeted “Congrats to @Jimmie Johnson,” shortly after the No. 48 crossed the finish line.

Two-time Paralympic medalist sprinter Blake Leeper served as Honorary Race Official for the 56th annual Daytona 500.

Two-time Paralympic medalist sprinter Blake Leeper served as Honorary Race Official for the 56th annual Daytona 500.

Johnson responded, “I hear I won the @Daytona500? Haha!”

The real winner of the race was Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. who celebrated his second win of the race.

His first was a decade ago in 2004.

“I can’t believe it! This is better than the first one!” Earnhardt exclaimed via Twitter.

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