Pesky Pothole Puts Damper On Daytona 500

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - What appeared to be relatively small pothole caused huge problems for the Daytona 500, forcing NASCAR officials to stop the race twice for a total of more than two hours while crews tried to repair the damage.

Daytona International Speedway engineers will be on the track Monday morning to try to determine what caused the hole to form during the race.

In the meantime, the president of Daytona International Speedway said he takes complete responsibility for the track's condition during its biggest race in front of a national audience.

AT THE SCENE: Daytona 500 Marred By Pothole

The 52nd running of the Daytona 500 will be remembered by frustrated fans for the little one-foot diameter pothole that caused significant delays.

Some fans were so annoyed, they left the race early.

"I paid a couple of hundreds of bucks here," said one fan who wished to remain anonymous.

"You know what? As for this track, it's craziness. Craziness to do that," said another unnamed racing fan.

"I apologize for it. This is hallowed ground," said Robin Braig, Daytona International Speedway President.

Daytona International Speedway president, Robin Braig, said he thinks it was caused by one of the race cars and may have also been affected by the track temperature.

"Do you think the hole does anything to the reputation of the speedway?" asked Eyewitness News reporter Ryan Hughes.

"Well, sure. We're the world center of racing. This is the Daytona 500. This is not supposed to happen. I take full responsibility," Braig replied.

Track workers tried once to patch the pothole, working for more than an hour and a half while race drivers parked their cars and fans waited in the stands. Unfortunately, the first fix did not hold, and race officials had to stop racing once again to attend to the reopened pothole. Drivers and fans could do nothing but wait.

"Nobody wants to sit around and wait all that time. But it was nobody's fault the racetrack came apart," said Greg Biffle, NASCAR driver.

Some racing fans were not as forgiving.

"You got the number one race track in the U.S., and they couldn't have the track paved so it could handle the race," remarked one irritated fan.

An Eyewitness News crew had been reporting from inside Daytona International Speedway early Monday morning, but they were abruptly asked to stop photographing the now infamous pothole by Speedway security. Daytona Beach police showed up moments later and notified the news crew that they had to leave the property.

Daytona International Speedway officials say the track is scheduled to be repaved in 2012 at a cost of approximately $20 million.