The 2013 NASCAR season will usher in the new Gen-6 cars for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and that is cool and all but the jury is still out on whether the cars will actually improve the racing on the track. One thing that is sure to be a hit is the new track dryers that NASCAR is going to usher in this season starting at Daytona in February.
The new track dryers will use compressed air to dry the track instead of blowing hot air across the track like the jet dryers did. They will also be more green and eco-friendly with less carbon emission.
"(Track drying) has always been a difficult thing for our fans — both on television and certainly at the track — that once it rains, how long it takes us to get the track dried again,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “So what I declared to our team a couple years ago is, ‘Let's change the way we do it. Let's innovate; let's get a system, and the goal is to improve it by 80 percent. So that means if we're drying Daytona off, where it usually took two and a half hours, we get it down to 30 minutes. That's the goal. And we're real close.”
NASCAR now thinks they can dry at 2.5 mile track like Daytona in around 30 minutes as compared to the two to three hours it took with the jet dryers. They expect to be able to dry a short track like Martinsville in a mere 15 minutes. Twenty-four of the dryers will be on hand at Daytona for Speedweeks.
“There's a few faces out here that will remember when we used to dry tracks off with just a fleet of vehicles going around the race track, or dragging tires behind pickup trucks,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “And then someone came along with the jet dryer that expedited it quite a bit and served its purpose for a long period of time, but in today's world with the expectations of getting the show done and getting it on, there was a high priority placed by Brian and the rest of us to come up with a way that we could expedite that. And Robin and the folks at the R&D Center responded to that and came up with ideas, and this one seems to have quite a bit of validity to it."
The 2012 Daytona 500 was pushed back to Monday for the first time in the races history due to rain last year. With the new track drying procedure NASCAR hopes it will help get more races in on the scheduled day at the full advertised race distance.
The faster track drying times could help attendance at the tracks especially on a race day when the weather forecast calls for a chance of rain. If fans know that a rain shower could come down and that the cars could be back racing within 30 minutes a lot more fans might decide to still make the trip to the track that day.
Faster track drying times is a great step forward for NASCAR in the eyes of fans and the competition and it will be interesting to see the process in action for the time. With that said let's hope for a nice and sunny Speedweeks.
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