July 8, 2014 in Sports

NASCAR made right call to shorten Coke Zero 400 race

 

When the sky opened for a third time during the rain-rescheduled race at Daytona and teams pulled out car covers to wait out the weather, it seemed the right time for NASCAR to put the Coke Zero 400 out of its misery.

The entire weekend was plagued by rain and cars never got near the track for the scheduled Saturday start. When the race finally did begin on Sunday – delayed, because of rain on the pace laps – it went a whopping six laps before the cars went back to pit road for a 25-minute rain delay.

Then came the on-track carnage: A 16-car crash seconds before a scheduled competition caution, and a 26-car crash before another shower. A total of six drivers managed to avoid accidents, leaving just 17 cars on the lead lap.

It would have been comedic if it wasn’t such a disastrous day for one of the biggest events on the NASCAR schedule. So pulling the plug seemed like such a logical decision when the track was soaked through shortly before 3 p.m.

Drivers – especially those who were lined up behind winner Aric Almirola when the race was called with 48 laps remaining – thought otherwise.

And so did the fans.

Using social media to vent their frustration, fans blasted NASCAR for calling the race so early. Daytona International Speedway has lights, and they claimed they were willing to hang in there until they saw one driver take the checkered flag.

They were robbed of that right when NASCAR threw in the towel, they argued.

“I know a lot of the fans tuned into the TV and stuck around at the race track waiting to see a finish,” said second-place finisher Brian Vickers. “I was expecting them to wait a little bit longer knowing that we have lights here and it was going to be a night race anyway.”

When Saturday night racing for the Sprint Cup Series was scrapped, NASCAR and track officials picked an early start for Sunday to create the largest possible window to run the race to completion. But that final shower that spoiled it showed no signs of letting up until at least 8 p.m. and it would likely take two hours to dry the track when it did finally stop.

Sure, there are some fans who would have waited out the bitter end. But plenty others had to get on the road to return home for Monday work.

NASCAR had to make a decision, and not stretching Sunday into a 12-plus hour day was the right call.

Top owners form alliance

The top nine teams in NASCAR have for the first time formed a single entity to collaborate on initiatives and issues facing their sport.

The Race Team Alliance was announced Monday in Charlotte, N.C., and Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman was elected chairman.

Kauffman said the top goal of the RTA, which is operating with bylaws and an executive committee, is to bring in the remaining Sprint Cup teams that are not currently members. The next most important items on the agenda, according to Kauffman, are working on cost-saving initiatives related to travel and buying power for parts, and communicating with one voice to NASCAR the team ideas on testing.


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