The Speedweeks at Daytona ended with a whimper. Instead of being the race that everyone will remember for its fantastic finish, the 2010 Daytona 500 will be remembered for the year of the pothole.
Red flag delays caused the drivers to park their cars a couple of times for a total of two hours and 25 minutes to allow track engineers to repeatedly make repairs.
The race finally finished after about six-and-a-half hours providing race fans with an exciting average speed of a little less than 80 miles per hour. It had 21 leaders, 52 lead changes, and finished with two green-white-checkered restarts that provided the opportunity for Jamie McMurray to win the race. He led for only two laps, but it was enough. Dale Earnhardt Jr., barely missed finishing first with a daring exhibition of driving that moved him from 10th to second in two laps.
This was McMurray’s first win at Daytona since the 2007 Coke Zero 400. At least the prolonged finish provided fans with an unexpected winner this year, and despite the delay those fans that stayed to the end of the race enjoyed the finish.
Unfortunately, many of the fans had already left the race track or switched to the Olympic coverage. A great week of racing and entertainment turned into a flop. Despite the rain and the cold, NASCAR was on a roll. They had garnered great media coverage and increased their television viewership driven by the debut of Danica Patrick in a stock car. Additionally, NASCAR made some rule changes to the restrictor plates and allowed the return of bump drafting to increase the excitement of the race.
A pothole siphoned off all of this momentum.
The track at Daytona has not been paved since 1978. Daytona Speedway plans to pave the track in 2012, but maybe after the "Debacle in Daytona," the speedway owners will “speed-up” the planned renovation, but don’t count on it.