Shades of 2012: Jet Dryers Collide Pre-Race at Daytona

By Jacob Seelman, Special to Kickin’ the Tires

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a bizarre twist ahead of Monday’s 66th Daytona 500, two jet driers collided in turn one during track-drying efforts at the World Center of Racing.

The incident occurred just after 11:30 a.m. ET, when one drier appeared to slide down the 31-degree banking, contacting a second drier that was working on the bottom groove of the corner.

As a result of the contact, a puddle of fuel leaked onto the turn-one asphalt, necessitating track washing efforts in the affected area with detergent soap and water.

A Daytona Int’l Speedway spokesperson confirmed that there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

How the jet drier collision may affect Monday’s already weather-altered schedule is yet to be seen.

Persistent showers through the morning hours pushed the scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series United Rentals 300 from 11 a.m. ET back to 9 p.m. ET, following the conclusion of the Daytona 500.

The Daytona 500 is slated for a 4 p.m. ET start, with broadcast coverage live on FOX, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

As of 12:30 p.m. ET, drying efforts around the 2.5-mile superspeedway were progressing nicely, with the exception of the fuel-affected area in turn one.

Monday marks the second time in Daytona Int’l Speedway history that an incident involving a jet drier has marred the proceedings during Daytona Speedweeks presented by AdventHealth.

The first was on lap 161 of the 2012 Daytona 500, where Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet drier in turn three after an apparent mechanical failure on his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet sent him careening out of control into the cleanup truck.

That incident caused jet fuel to pour out of the stricken drier, sparking a fire that lit the banking ablaze and led to a two hour, five minute, and 29 second red-flag period for extensive track cleanup.

Among the cleaning efforts that night were a Bondo patch to repair patches of asphalt that were dug up by the drier as it was removed from the banking, as well as Tide detergent washing that led to a sellout of the local Walmart and Target stores nearest to the speedway.

As one reporter noted in the moments following news of Monday’s incident, first reported by Greg Engle of Forbes, “it’s giving flashbacks to 12 years ago,” referencing Montoya’s now infamous turn-three crash.

That night, the Daytona 500 took the checkered flag at 12:54 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning.

Considering there’s still an Xfinity Series race to be run following the Great American Race, here’s hoping that this year’s Daytona 500 doesn’t follow the timing trend of its predecessor from 12 years ago.

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