By Tori Petry – After a soggy and wreck-filled weekend at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR decided to end the drawn-out ordeal early – much to some drivers’ chagrin.
With 48 laps to go in the Coke Zero 400, NASCAR declared Sunday’s postponed race official under a red flag due to inclement weather.
The race had been set to go green at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, but was moved to Sunday morning thanks to steady rain the entire day. When Sunday’s forecast turned out to be waterlogged as well, the race went through several cautions for weather before finally turning into a red flag. At about 3:00 pm after almost an hour of waiting for the storms to pass, NASCAR made the decision to end it.
“That last bit, when the entire race track got washed out, we looked at forecasts and there was potential of at least a few more hours of rain,” NASCAR Vice President for competition Robin Pemberton said after the race. “It was past halfway so we just called the race.”
Dillon’s disappointment might have been understated, but Vickers, who finished in second, was more vocal about his frustration with being unable to get another shot at the lead.
“I know a lot of the fans tuned into the TV and stuck around at the racetrack waiting to see a finish, and 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,” he said.
@KurtBusch led the most laps but finished in third after failing to take advantage of what ended up being the two crucial restarts before the red flag. He was hard on himself for his performance there, but also questioned the way the race’s end played out.
“It seems early to call a race. It is Sunday already, and the majority of our fans that showed up were going to use this day to travel back home. On average how far are the fans here locally traveling to get back home? Is it four hours?” he asked. “Maybe we could have run later on today and still finished and everybody could have gone back home to work on Monday.”
Even so, his thoughts were more diplomatic than others.
“The network TV side of it versus the safety of the fans, as well, with thunder and lightning in the area, it’s a tough call to make,” Busch said.
His girlfriend Patricia Driscoll was outspoken about her frustration with the ruling on Twitter, retweeting several users who cried justice for the fans who waited out the delay to see a finish. She said she felt like more laps would have worked in Busch’s favor.
A lot times I’d be excited about a P3 finish, not today. I felt at peace this race and felt like today was @Haas_Automation teams day.
— Patricia Driscoll (@Patricia_AFF) July 6, 2014
Other drivers also took to twitter to share opinions. Both @MartinTruex_Jr. and @DennyHamlin, who were two of only 17 drivers to finish on the lead lap, both said they would have been willing to wait out the rain.
Really wish we could have went back to green. Just got back on lead lap from changing battery and had a really fast car. — Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) July 6, 2014
Dang miss all those wrecks for nothin.. Waited 3 days to race and didn’t get to finish
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) July 6, 2014
At the end of the day though, Dillon admitted he did have other plans to tend to this weekend.
“I’m ready to go to my dirt race, which is in Indiana,” he said. “I’m trying to get out of here.”
Tori Petry is a Guest Columnist for Popular Speed