Fire, rain, Tide, Twitter: Daytona was crazy like a Fox (wink)

An accident, huh? Yeah, and I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that you can have real cheap. (AP photo)

An accident, huh? Yeah, and I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you can have cheap. (AP photo)

There have been times — in 2002, when Sterling Marlin lost the Daytona 500 by doing a spot of fender repair while cars were stopped; in 2007, when Clint Bowyer crossed the finish line with his car upside down and on fire; in 2010, when one persistent pothole halted proceedings for two hours — when I’ve thought to myself: “You couldn’t make this stuff up.”

Last night, or maybe it was early this morning, I realized: “They have to be making this stuff up.”

In most things, I refuse to accept the concept of global conspiracy. Where Daytona is concerned, I’m ready to go all Roswell/UFOs/Area 51. How else could you explain the events of Sunday/Monday/Tuesday?

1. The Daytona 500 is postponed for the first time not because it’s raining all over Florida but because it just happens to be raining — pretty much all day — on Daytona Beach. That’s postponed to Monday, as opposed to delayed into prime time. What else happened in prime time Sunday night? Only the NBA all-star game and the Academy Awards?

2. The race is reset for midday Monday, which means few will watch, but yet another patch of rain impels NASCAR to delay the race again, this time into prime time on a night when nothing much is scheduled.

3. Twenty-six hours late, the race commences. Two laps unfold. Then Jimmie Johnson, the greatest driver of his era and maybe ever, and Danica Patrick, making her first Daytona 500 run, crash. How’s that for a snappy beginning?

4. The race continues. Nothing much happens. (When cars aren’t turning upside down, races can be rather dull, especially on TV.) Then Juan Pablo Montoya, driving under caution, veers into a jet dryer that’s on the track so as to dry it, duh, and precipitates a fireball.

(Here, I should confess, is where my conspiracy theory gets shaky. As much as people like to see things blow up on big screens, TV doesn’t get a clear shot of Montoya losing control of his car — which, according to the official television-analyst diagnosis, “broke” — and plowing into the drying truck. But conspiracies can’t be too obvious, can they?)

5. The race is halted for two hours while the fire is doused and the burned vehicles are removed and track repair is done. (Product placement: Tide is used to clean the surface.) Drivers get out of their cars and stand around. This wouldn’t normally make for exciting TV, except that …

6. The drivers appear to be having fun standing around talking. Carl Edwards asks for a Subway sandwich. (Cross-promotion: Subway happens to sponsor the very next NASCAR event, which will be aired on this very same network.) The drivers come off as nice guys in the inevitable TV interviews. Brad Keselowski, who for reasons unclear has his iPhone in the car — perhaps he knew what was coming and preferred ordering a pizza to having Subway — starts Tweeting. In two hours he gains 100,000 Twitter followers. That’s called brand-building!

7. The race begins again. It’s near midnight — prime time on the Left Coast! — and the Daytona 500 has taken on certain aspects of a weekend in Vegas. (Cross-promotion: In two weeks, the Sprint Cup will grace Las Vegas. I’m not kidding!) You’d hate to nod off now for fear you’ll miss something. And isn’t that what Good TV is all about? Making the viewer hesitate to flip channels?

8. The race ends around 1 a.m. EST. By Daytona standards, the finish is a snooze. (Nobody does the flaming-belly-up thing.) By this point, the winner — Matt Kenseth, for minutiae mavens — doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the NASCAR has taken its Super Bowl, shoved it into prime time and left people who care nothing for car racing gathering around water coolers this morning, assuming 21st Century offices still have water coolers, and saying, “Did you see that car hit that drier and blow up?”

Some will look on the 2012 Great American Race and see a fiasco. Me, I see a carefully orchestrated campaign of cloud-seeding and car-doctoring and explosion-rigging that generated a triumph of American-made detergent plus a breakthrough of what we like to call social media. I haven’t seen the ratings, but I expect them to be boffo. I expect people who’d never seen a race got a glimpse of this one and said, not altogether disapprovingly, “This is crazy.”

Exactly, I say. Crazy like a Fox. Which just happens to be the name of the network that aired the Daytona 500. Earthlings, I rest my case.

By Mark Bradley

57 comments Add your comment

RammerJammer

February 28th, 2012
8:17 am

Roll Tide Roll! First, and the barn STILL cheats!

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2012
8:18 am

Kudos, RammerJammer.

CONservative Johnson

February 28th, 2012
8:27 am

It was an event to behold. Memorizing television . . .

CONservative Johnson

February 28th, 2012
8:28 am

Mesmerizing television also . . .

spotman

February 28th, 2012
8:35 am

The only two real sports left are wrestling and roller derby.

Will

February 28th, 2012
8:45 am

I nodded off at about 10 est with the tv on and awoke just before the restart after the JPM fiasco. Turned out to be a fortuitous nap. Just wish Greg Biffle didn’t block for his teammate on the final lap.

Rusty

February 28th, 2012
8:56 am

And to think if his crew chief hadn’t told him to hurry to pit road for a taco break, none of this would’ve happened…..

Jacket99

February 28th, 2012
8:57 am

The Rousch Fords were set up correctly for this one. Hate that Edwards had fuel pressure problems. Good win for Kenseth.

I like your headline, Mark. Reminds me of a James Taylor song.

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain….”

T-Bone

February 28th, 2012
8:59 am

I still can’t bring myself to call driving around in cirlces a sport.

Dawg_Mike

February 28th, 2012
8:59 am

” I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain…I’ve seen Juan Pablo Montoya lose his freaking brain “

Dawg_Mike

February 28th, 2012
9:00 am

How many drivers does it take to blow up a jet dryer ?
Just Juan.

MatthewH

February 28th, 2012
9:15 am

I’ll see your conspracy theory in NASCAR and raise you a Conspiracy Theory in the NFL. How else to explain Tebow’s success?

Rusty

February 28th, 2012
9:16 am

In an unrelated story: Several empty cans of Tecate were found in the back seat of Juan Pablo’s car.

MatthewH

February 28th, 2012
9:20 am

Mark, You should have found a way to work UGA into this blog. You’d certainly have more than 15 comments after an hour.

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

February 28th, 2012
9:24 am

The only conspiracy is trying to convince me people still watch this circus.

Dawg_Mike

February 28th, 2012
9:26 am

From Fox Sports Mark Kriegel -

Of the 43 cars in the Monday night race, 25 were damaged. Eleven couldn’t finish, eight of those because of accidents. It’s been that way since the drivers arrived here. In the Budweiser Shootout — as dangerous as it was spectacular — 21 of 25 cars were damaged. Twelve did not finish because of accidents. The Nationwide race Saturday saw 37 of the 43 cars damaged. Altogether, including the truck and qualifying races, there were 196 entrants over the past 11 days. One hundred and eighteen were damaged. Sixty-one were unable to finish because of accidents.

Joe Tess Fish House

February 28th, 2012
9:29 am

Mark Brady U R dum!

Therie is no conspricy in Nascar. Theyse guy R heros. Well except the 1 women who should not be out there. 4 those of U who dont like Nascra need 2 go a way. U dont have 2 watch it or coment on it. I am a pruod Nascar fan!

Go Jr!!

phil

February 28th, 2012
9:30 am

Good tale, Mark. Things often do take on a look at these races, primarily because the fan base is the same for pro wrestling.

But here’s the thing that stopped me from ever thinking much of a conspiracy ever infects a race…

They didn’t intentionally kill Dale Earnhardt.

Dale, Jr. hasn’t won in nearly 4 years.

If it was rigged, Jr. would win multiple races EVERY season, and he would’ve won last night for sure.

But he hasn’t won since Michigan in the summer of 2008.

It’s a great sport, with its boring stretches like you get in ANY sport now and then. But an exploding jet dryer, which was out there blowing debris off the track, NOT drying it, is a new one for sure.

And a final point. At least with racing, you don’t have to endure the inevitable choke job that we get from ALL of our Georgia teams on a regular basis.

Perpetuating a fraud

February 28th, 2012
9:34 am

June 15th, 2008. The last time Dale Earnhardt won a Sprint Cup race. How is it he is always voted the most popular driver every year? Just how stupid is the NASCAR fan?

kappellmeister

February 28th, 2012
9:39 am

Mark – please remove classless RUSTY’s comment

Joe Tess Fish House

February 28th, 2012
9:41 am

Hey dummy

Dale Jr is a American Hero. Its not as eassy as it looks so dont be thrashing him for not wining. There R a lot of other drivers that havnt won either why dont U pix on them?

Nascar is a tru American sport.

steve brown

February 28th, 2012
9:46 am

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I tried to watch, I tried to get into it learn to learn to enjoy a new event for me. What a farce – you must be blind or simply farcical. Is there some connection between NASCAR’ S Southern popularity and the South losing the Civil War?

Joe Tess Fish House

February 28th, 2012
9:52 am

U must not of had payed attention 2 much then cuz as I siad B 4 it is a true american sport. If you donnt like Nascar then U must be from another country or just plane dum. Now it time 4 U 2 go a way.

Perpetuating a fraud

February 28th, 2012
9:56 am

Joe Tess Fish House
February 28th, 2012
9:41 am

Hey dummy

Dale Jr is a American Hero. Its not as eassy as it looks so dont be thrashing him for not wining. There R a lot of other drivers that havnt won either why dont U pix on them?

Nascar is a tru American sport.

A true American sport with Toyotas in the field?

crose714

February 28th, 2012
10:00 am

Hey Mark! I mentioned it yesterday when I was “First.” It was going to be special… I just didn’t know it was going to be crazy special. Wow!

Hoopster

February 28th, 2012
10:02 am

Toyotas are built in Kentucky! Why not? And yes Mark, TV did have a clear view of his car breaking. You can see sparks fly out from underneath and then he veers hard right into the jet dryer. You might be the only person who didn’t see it.

Andy

February 28th, 2012
10:03 am

Mark

Do you like NASCAR or do you write about it because it’s your job? It bores me to tears but it sounds like this might have kept me interested.

Sonny Clusters

February 28th, 2012
10:05 am

They was just rubbing.

phil

February 28th, 2012
10:17 am

Andy – It’s his job.

You can always tell if someone knows the sport when they write an article.

Those who don’t, like Mark, will say something stupid, always, like the jet dryer was drying the track when Montoya hit it.

The jet dryer was being used to blow debris from the track under a caution.

Mark had no clue.

phil

February 28th, 2012
10:18 am

And it’s okay, of course, not to like a sport or know much about it.

What I don’t like is people who try to act like they know something or even really care. They just look foolish when the inevitable gaffe shows up.

phil

February 28th, 2012
10:19 am

And fire FG!!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

rusty

February 28th, 2012
10:21 am

Mark, I usually enjoy your stuff but this is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen you write.

Fox did get a clear shot of Montoya’s car breaking. You could see sparks fly out from under his car and he spun out. Stuff like that happens. This time, there unfortunately was a track dryer full of jet fuel on the track (maybe you meant Fox didn’t get a clear shot of Montoya’s car hitting the track dryer, because they didn’t get that). Track dryers full of jet fuel are at every track and they come out onto every track during every caution. Do you really think NASCAR wanted to have lengthy delay, restart the race after midnight when mostly everybody was asleep and finish the race after 1am?

NASCAR should take away the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway because of this column.

Please stick to baseball and NFL (I don’t read you college football stuff because I just don’t like college football). You are good at baseball and the NFL, but not racing.

dean

February 28th, 2012
10:29 am

@Steve Brown,

You failed Geography? The next race is in Phoenix. Then the next race is in Vegas. Later on there are races in Californina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Delaware. Get the picture? For something so disdainfully Southern, you carpetbaggers sure like it.

Perpetuating a fraud

February 28th, 2012
10:45 am

Bradley knows about NASCAR….Maybe not as much as some of you, but he knows enough to stir the pot.

NASCAR has several problems…..One of which, if you read between the lines in Bradley’s blog is viewership is down. I wonder why? It’s what I want to do…..Watch a pack of cars move around a large oval like an amoeba, waiting on the next disaster. That’s what you hillbillies are waiting for. If you truly cared about the nuances of the sport, you would not keep voting Dale Earnhardt Jr as most popular driver. That’s like voting Chris Redman as most popular Falcon.

Other problems –
Technology. NASCAR finally have fuel injection in their cars. 20 years after the rest of the racing world caught on to the better technology. The cars are relics from the 70s and look nothing like the homologated cars they represent.

Safety. NASCAR always waits for a disaster….Or more, to institute changes. They were the last sanctioning body to mandate the HANS device, pit road safety rules, Proper equipment use and installation, and well trained safety crews.

It’s just plain boring. I’m a motor head from way back. I find NASCAR the least compelling and the most comical of all motor sports.

The rut

February 28th, 2012
10:55 am

I wonder if the Tide had downy in it, to make for a softer track.
And fire FG!!

billy mac

February 28th, 2012
11:02 am

my uncle from alabama thought pro wrestling and nascar were real,and the moon landings were fake,highlight of the night during break seeing danica patrick running to take a pee with her suit hanging off

billy mac

February 28th, 2012
11:06 am

my uncle from alabama always thought the moon landings were fake,and pro wrestling and nascar were real

Sid

February 28th, 2012
11:22 am

T-Bone

February 28th, 2012
8:59 am
I still can’t bring myself to call driving around in cirlces a sport.

*******************************************************
You probably think golfers aren’t athletes too………!!

UGA Insider

February 28th, 2012
11:28 am

I have never watched Nascar in my life but found myself drinking beer and taking it all in last night.

UGA Insider

February 28th, 2012
11:31 am

Man, and I thought the UGA offense was boring…. I tried last night to watch but couldn’t stay awake.

Sid

February 28th, 2012
11:43 am

kappellmeister

February 28th, 2012
9:39 am
Mark – please remove classless RUSTY’s comment

*******************************************************************
C’mon, ease up. It’s funny and exactly what I thought except I assumed he was sipping some 1800. Anyway, you can rest assured he wouldn’t say it to Juan Pablo Montoya’s face.

Dawg_Mike

February 28th, 2012
11:50 am

All kidding aside, it was cool to see Brad Keselowski tweeting during the race. Roger Goodell was having a coronary somewhere at that moment.

P B Orr

February 28th, 2012
12:00 pm

The modern drivers are horrible, and the races they participate in a crashing bore. (haha).

In the day, crashes had consequences, from broken bones to fiery death. You’d have to drive your car deliberately into a wall head on to even get a hangnail, the sport has been so sanitized.

Stock car racing is dead. The participants are pussies, or drama queens, the cars are slow, there is no actual racing, and the commentary is plain stupid.

dtanner

February 28th, 2012
12:10 pm

agree with p b orr,at one time the element of danger made the races more compelling,now just a bunch of cars going round in circles,puts me to sleep,that and hearing darrell waltrip drone on and on,would rather watch paint dry

Rickster

February 28th, 2012
12:14 pm

Wait? There was a NBA All-Star game Sunday night?

Who knew?

Hillybilly D

February 28th, 2012
12:22 pm

in 2002, when Sterling Marlin lost the Daytona 500 by doing a spot of fender repair while cars were stopped;

Everybody has always missed the point on that incident. Sterling had to get the fender off the tire and he was going to have to pit anyway. He took a calculated gamble, knowing that getting away with it was his only shot to win the race. That’s what racers do; he had nothing to lose by going for it.

Then Jimmie Johnson, the greatest driver of his era and maybe ever

I’d disagree on both counts. Championships are the measure of a team, not necessarily of a driver. As pure drivers, I’d rank Stewart and Kyle Busch up at the top, now. Pearson was the best driver I ever saw, all time.

The Daytona 500 is postponed for the first time

53 years without a rainout and they decide to move the race a week. Is there anything this current bunch can’t screw up.

If you like watching crashes, I guess NASCAR has their act together. If you like to watch racing, they’ve pretty well killed it.

Hillbilly D

February 28th, 2012
12:46 pm

Last nights results were a bit more spectacular but over the years, I’ve seen race cars hit pace cars, fire trucks, wreckers and probably a few other things that I don’t remember. It happens.

ramblingbuzz

February 28th, 2012
12:49 pm

I really wanted to see Danica finish the race.

Hillbilly D

February 28th, 2012
12:49 pm

Ok, trying this again. Last night’s results were more spectacular but over the years, I’ve seen race cars hit pace cars, fire trucks, wreckers and probably a few other things that I don’t remember. I’ve seen cars crash under caution, many times, including the race leader when there wasn’t another car in 100 yards of him (and he’s in the Hall of Fame, too). It happens.