From The People Who Lived It

By Rob Fisher

I've been coming to Daytona International Speedway for a long time. It all started in 1976, I was 7 years old and during a summer trip to Disney World, my dad got tickets to the Firecracker 400. Needless to say, I was hooked. For that 7-year-old kid, who had spent many Saturday nights at Wall Stadium our local short track back home in New Jersey, that 2.5-mile monster was a whole new level. Three years later he got tickets to the Daytona 500 and my first Speedweeks was punctuated by the now famous fight between the Allisons and Cale Yarbrough. We've been going to Speedweeks ever since. So when NASCAR announced that it was going to run short track cars on the backstretch I couldn't wait to dust off one of our project cars and tow up the road to the “World Center of Racing.”

I think I can safely say that a lot of asphalt racers dream of running at Daytona and while we didn't race on the big track—this event was still at Daytona and it was still on that same asphalt that Petty, Lund, Earnhardt, and others raced. With that said all of Team Circle Track was anxious and excited to be involved in the event.

Over the years, both CT teams have raced a lot and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. And like most multi-day events this one had a little bit of everything.

The Good

The idea was fantastic…get a variety of asphalt race cars to convene on one of the most storied tracks in America for two solid days of racing! It was sheer promotional brilliance…had the track been a little shorter (I'll get to that in a minute) I think you would have had an unbelievable and much cleaner show.

At least with the Super Late Model race there were so many cars from so many different areas of the country that creating a uniform rules package seemed to be a bit of a challenge. That said, I thought NASCAR handled it extremely well. I don't think anybody felt particularly outclassed by any other group.

The Bad

I would have liked to have seen more local promotion to get more people into the grandstands for the races. The track had/has a gem in the making here but I don't recall seeing a lot of local ads or incentives to come out an see the event. As a Florida residents, I think I would have seen the advertising if it were there.

The best crowd was by far the Modified race. No offense to the K&N Series, but make the Mods the marquee division next year.

The Ugly

In our heat race in the first turn on the first lap, car No. 30 driver Dalton Zehr got put to the back of the pack for stopping on the track to avoid a crash. Fast forward to the finish of the race when Kyle Larson intentionally dumps C.E.Faulk to take the win, destroying his car in the process, however, he is allowed to keep the win and the money. I'm not whining, but come on...how about a little consistency in the officiating department?

Speaking of destroying cars there were a lot of torn up race cars by the end of the Battle at the Beach. And while some of the drivers, like Larson, who can afford to wreck cars, others like Danny Bonn, the Modified driver who ended up on his roof, have only one engine and one car. Leaving Daytona, Bonn's entire season was in jeopardy and he had nothing to show for it except for some cool highlight reels. Not to be redundant if anybody else makes this observation, but the track was a little too long. Maybe shortening it by 200 feet or so will cut down on all of the wrecks. The cars, even the Super Late Models, were running into the corners so fast that the only way to really pass was to dive to the inside of somebody and punt them out of the way. Shortening the track would bring down that corner entry speed and make it potentially easier to pass.