DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.,None - Officials are trying to figure out how much they need to repair the Daytona International Speedway following a fiery crash last night between Daytona 500 driver Juan Pablo Montoya and a track-drying truck.
The driver of that truck, 52-year-old Duane Barnes from the Michigan Speedway, said he's amazed at how many people
have wished him well. The fiery crash on turn 3 was a first for him in his 24 years working in track maintenance.
Officials said the track might eventually need a serious repair. On the 31-degree bank of the Daytona International Speedway, track president Joie Chitwood and his team surveyed the asphalt left scorched by a jet fuel inferno Monday night.
Race fan Richard Datz said in his 20 plus years watching races, he's never seen anything like it.
"Oh, it was crazy. I was hoping it wasn't going to explode because I didn't know where the fuel for the jet dryer was," Datz said.
Chitwood said it was about an 11-step process extinguishing, then cleaning the jet fuel. It burned at about 1,800 degrees, which may have created a potentially brittle area on turn 3. But the speedway will only make minor repairs to it before the Daytona 200 Motorcycle Race.
"Following the Daytona 200, then we have to look at some long-term plans to make sure that that asphalt section can withstand racing at the Coke Zero and everything else we do here in the summer," Chitwood said.
Monday night, officials said Montoya's car broke under caution, causing him to careen into the dryer, setting it ablaze.
Montoya and Barnes escaped serious injury. But the freakish accident will stay with fans and drivers.
"That was incredible. I saw it from my car, and I could see the flames, and what was crazy was they couldn't put it out," Montoya said.
Chitwood said his crews performed phenomenally, but both the speedway and NASCAR will review the incident for future reference.