Downpour brings out red flag at Daytona

Downpour brings out red flag at Daytona

Slick, wet and windy conditions have defined overnight 2004 running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, yet the team that has prevailed at the front of the overall - and Daytona Prototype field since the sixth hour of running is ...

Slick, wet and windy conditions have defined overnight 2004 running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, yet the team that has prevailed at the front of the overall - and Daytona Prototype field since the sixth hour of running is motoring along seemingly without care.

Race stopped: cars under cover.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
The #2 Howard-Bell Motorsports Chevrolet/Crawford, driven by Andy Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, had a three-lap gap on the #54 Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran of Grand-Am Cup winner Terry Borcheller, Forest Barber, Andy Pilgrim and Christian Fittipaldi as rain continued to pelt mid-Florida.

Three hours of full-course caution just before sunrise caused the pace of the race to slow appreciably, and it wasn't until shortly after seven in the morning that cars began to circulate under the two-minute mark.

Just about the time Max Angelelli achieved that lap in the #10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac/Riley, moderate rain gave way to another downpour causing Grand American Road Racing Association officials to, once again, impose full-course caution for standing water at various areas around the 3.56-mile combined road/oval circuit.

Conditions became so futile that GARRA decided to red flag the contest around 7:42AM and halt all activities on the circuit. Extended wet racing has depleted Goodyear's stash of rain tires, forcing many teams to recycle rubber they used previously in the night. At that point the #54 had made up two of the three laps by which it lagged.

Goodyear officials stated they have brought more rain tires than ever before for this race, but are now supplying teams with new tires left over from last year's race, which have harder compound and different tread than the 2004 wets.

Race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. waits for restart.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Bob Shaffer, Goodyear's marketing manager for sports car racing said that, in his 25 years working this event, he has never seen this much accumulated precipitation during a Rolex 24.

Past the 19-hour mark the red flag continued as drivers and teams huddled under their pit-side canopies.

Shortly after 9AM, the loudest machines on the track were pigeon-propelled and mechanics, not being able to work on their stopped vehicles, began to devise ways to amuse themselves. Taping water bottles together, placing a plate atop and a duct-tape sail of sorts (or balloon), teams had races down the pit road pond. One such device cartwheeled through the rivulets to the laughter from all.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Christian Fittipaldi , Andy Pilgrim , Terry Borcheller , Max Angelelli , Eric Gilbert