NASCAR officials has announced a dramatic change to get the car an extra pace car with flashing lights behind the last jet-dryer truck on the track in all races in all three series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Trucks Series.
The day ends with Kevin Harvick running out of fuel ("I was a lap short."), Denny Hamlin botching his victory burnout ("New surfaces are not my particular forte."), and team owner Joe Gibbs brushing off questions about a man he once employed with the Redskins (Gregg Williams, the NFL's Most Wanted). On the track, it's getting warm. A worker on pit road sprays Coca-Cola on his portion of track, helping the tires grip a little better. Down the way, a female fan hops over a barricade, pleading with Joey Logano to sign her shirt.
No one seems to care. In NASCAR, the relationship between fans and the competitors remains amazingly close, trusting and unpretentious, blowing away what you see in most other sports.
The change, which was explained to the Sprint Cup teams during the drivers' meeting Sunday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, comes after Juan Pablo Montoya's car spun into a jet-dryer truck during a caution period in the Daytona 500 Monday night.
The collision caused an enormous fireball explosion on the backstretch from the kerosene fuel tank on the jet dryer. Both vehicles were severely damaged by the fire, but both drivers escaped without serious injuries.
The drivers of the jet-dryer trucks also will wear helmets and fire suits during each race, but that is a change agreed upon by officials at race tracks that play host to NASCAR events, not a rule instituted by NASCAR.