Martin Fennelly Columns
Drizzly Sunday disappointing at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH - According to the record book, no Daytona 500 had been postponed to another day. The race had been delayed and it had been rain-shortened, but never postponed. You can throw the record book out the window, provided you can lift it. It's water-logged. And so today it will be. Super Bowls aren't on Mondays, but this one will be, maybe. It was a big day for Doppler radar. Mother Nature grabbed the lead Sunday and wouldn't let go. All those jet-engine powered blow dryers circling Daytona International Speedway couldn't prevent postponement of the Great American Race and the next Danica Patrick wreck. Tens of thousands of umbrellas went up and the masses headed out. They shall return, some of them, anyway. Waffle House remains at threat level orange.The Daytona No Hundred. If you went to church Sunday, or to market, you drove more than defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, more than Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson combined. Here's how bad it was: Daytona pole sitter Edwards sat in his deluxe motor home Sunday afternoon and watched … bowling . "I did watch the U.S. Open, the PBA tournament," Edwards said. "It was the 69th Open. Pete Weber won. I don't know if you guys are Pete Weber fans or not. The guy is intense." For a time, as the rain kept falling (If those jet dryers had sprouted wings, they'd be over Fiji right now), there remained a chance this 500 would become a Sunday night deal, which would have formed a three-wide race to remember, the 500 against the Academy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game in nearby Orlando. Yes, it would have caused confusion all around ( … And the award for best actress in a supporting roles goes to: A.J. Allmendinger ) but it would have been something just the same. Rain, rain wouldn't go away, not even after Jeremy Lin, in Orlando this All-Star weekend, joined forces with Tim Tebow. They clasped hands, got that hum-baby look in their eyes, the kind that makes squirrels run and hide, and tried to steer the storm bands away. My toilet backed up. How about yours? Hey, nobody said they were perfect. Yes, the weather kept getting the band back together. In other news, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney flip-flopped about the soggy grounds before the race. "God bless this great nation of ours," proclaimed Romney, who admitted he wasn't as ardent a racing fan as some others, apparent when he repeatedly asked, "So, again, Tom Petty isn't Richard's son?" Not to be outdone, Rick Santorum's campaign is an actual sponsor for the No. 26 car, driven by Tony Raines, though the car has had handling problems. It keeps pulling to the far right. President Obama, responding quickly, vowed to bail out all GM drivers who do not finish. Then he watched hoop. The rain was still falling as darkness fell on Daytona, a long line of red tail lights creeping toward price-gouging hotels. God bless this great nation of ours. And don't forget the meteorologists, who see a window for racing around noon today. Some of us had hoped for an earlier start, Fox's first ever "Breakfast at Daytona" – strawberries and ethanol. Today it will be, or try to be. "I don't even want to talk about Tuesday right now," Daytona speedway president Joie Chitwood III said. Not that we're complaining. That Pete Weber, the guy is intense.
The Daystarter: Stormy forecast for Tampa Bay; watering restrictions back in place; new DEP head denies political conflict; peering ahead to Super Bowl LV in Tampa