NOTEBOOK: NASCAR goes prime-time, weeknight ...
By fate, not design
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When NASCAR president Mike Helton and Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III announced Monday morning that the season’s biggest race would be run at 7 p.m., it raised expectations a bit.
The decision had no particular calculation to it. The Daytona 500 had been rescheduled for noon, but it rained in the morning and no possibility existed for starting it then. The powers that be studied the weather forecast and decided they’d have to wait until Monday night.
As a result, NASCAR’s largest race became the first weeknight prime-time race on national television.
In short, it was “Monday Night NASCAR” by fate, not design.
Wheels turning immediately: Asked what it was like to wait another day, front-row starter Greg Biffle said, “I guess I’m going to have to win the first Monday Daytona 500.”
Sunday, according to Biffle, was rough.
“There’s just so much anxiety,” he said. “I’ve watched all the programming leading up to this, with all the interviews, and then just to put it on hold made it tough because there’s just all kind of adrenaline, and you have to try to sleep.”
Minute adjustments: A Toyota paced the Daytona 500 for the first time … Rain delays cost the race most of its dignitaries. John Cena was going to hang for a 10 a.m. start, but a wrestling extravaganza in Portland, Ore., sent him to the airport. … A fair estimate was probably that less half the crowd returned after the rained-out Sunday. … No pre-race ceremonies were held at all, but most had been conducted on Sunday before the decisive storm that washed out the race.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton