If Daytona summer schedule is broken (and it is), let's fix it

Remember last year's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway?

If you're like most people, you probably saw the gut-wrenching replays of Austin Dillon's car going into the catchfence at the end of the race.

But you probably didn't see the finish live.

Few people did, because the checkered flag flew at 2:41 a.m.

Of course, there was no qualifying for last year's race, because it was rained out, so you didn't see that, either.

How about the 2014 Coke Zero 400?

Oh, right, it was rained out and run the next day, and even then, it was cut short because of rain. But, hey, the Coke Zero 280 has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Then there was 2010, when the race ended at 12:45 a.m., and '05, when it ended at 1:42 a.m.

And who can forget the hilarity of 2007, when Boris Said qualified on the provisional pole for what was then known as the Pepsi 400. But with 14 cars left to qualify, the skies opened up, qualifying was officially cancelled and Said went from the pole to DNQ.

Thursday at DIS, there were two scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices. The first one saw eight cars make one or two laps each before weather halted the proceedings. The second practice was rained out entirely.

I'm spotting a trend here.

And in the news business, we like to say three of anything is a trend story.

So here, friends, is the trend: During the summer it regularly rains in Central Florida during the late afternoon and evening.

Let me repeat that.

During the summer it regularly rains in Central Florida during the late afternoon and evening.

In fact, that's why they used to run the old Firecracker 400 in the mornings: Get all 400 miles in in before the afternoon and evening storms blow through Daytona Beach. Race your asses off for 2½ hours and then go take the family to the beach.

Now, more than ever, that sounds like a really, really good idea.

From a practical standpoint, there are reasons this race is run at night.

But in the last few years, the weather has turned it into a logistical nightmare.

There has to be a better way of doing this, right?

I sure hope somebody can come up with an alternative that doesn't involve sitting through hours of rain delays three days in a row.

The schedule, as it stands now, is broken. There has to be a way to fix it.