The bruising finish of Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway resulted in some overtime – not only in the race but also in the aftermath.
Beyond the damage very visible on a string of trucks after numerous crashes, three green-white-checkered runs and nine extra race laps, there was destruction along the frontstretch grandstand fence, the only wall of protection between thousands of fans and the racing vehicles hurtling past a few feet from them.
The last crash of a long list of them Friday night saw Joey Coulter’s truck flip along the frontstretch and bounce off the catchfence on the outside of the racing surface. The impact sent debris into the grandstand as the truck ripped out part of the fence mesh.
Track president Joie Chitwood said one fan suffered minor injuries and was treated at the track’s infield medical center.
Into the wee hours of Saturday morning, track crews were busy replacing the mesh fencing and two support poles, in addition to doing some “gardening” work on the grassy area between the frontstretch and pit road. Used as a major display area for sponsor signage and track identifiers, the grass is doctored every night so that it looks good for the crowd – and for television – the next day.
“The fence did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Chitwood said Saturday. “Everything functioned properly. We were pleased with the result, although there’s no difference between that and the SAFER barriers. Sometimes you have to go back and remediate, and that’s what we did with the poles.
“With those last three green-white-checkereds, everybody has some challenges. There were a lot of trucks torn up. We had to repair poles and do some landscaping. There’s probably more green paint now than green grass. But it’s always a challenge to keep everything looking clean for the 500.
“It made for an exciting finish to the race, but you don’t want to see guys tear up equipment.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.