Fiery Daytona crash could have been worse

Flames erupt from a jet dryer after it was hit by Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia in his number 42...

Flames erupt from a jet dryer after it was hit by Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia in his number 42 Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 54th Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, Feb. 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Pierre Ducharme)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

DAYTONA, FLA. - The spectacular crash and resulting fire at the Daytona 500 involving Juan Pablo Montoya and a truck that was pulling a jet dryer was only a quarter mile away from a real disaster.

While NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway officials deserve all the praise in the world for their efforts to control the raging blaze it is worth noting that had the accident happened at the exit of Turn 4 and not on the entrance of Turn 3 the result could have been tragic.

Where the crash happened is one of the few place on the 2.5 mile superspeedway where there are no grandstands.

But just ahead in Turn 4 is the start of the main grandstand and those seats are alarmingly close to the racing surface.

I can’t even imagine the damage such a fire would have caused had it occurred in front of a full grandstand.

As it was, the only damage inflicted was on the pavement and outside wall.

Maybe it is time to re-think the kind of fuel these jet dryers carry to do the job they do, because it appeared that emergency crews had a very difficult time dousing the flames.

But the important thing here is that Montoya and the truck driver escaped with nothing but a few bumps and bruises.

STRYES WINS BIG FLORIDA DIRT TRACK RACE

Glen Styres was not driving in any of the big races at Daytona International Speedway last week but the native of Brantford was beating some of the world’s best dirt track racers at a little one-third mile track across the Florida panhandle.

Styres became the first Canadian to win the prestigious King of the 360s Nationals at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa.

The local newspaper even called Styres’ victory a “resounding upset.”

Styres, who owns and operates Ohsweken Speedway on the Six Nations Reserve near Wayne Gretzky’s home town, waited until the 40th and final lap in the feature to pass Ohio’s Darren Long to take the checkered flag and pocket the $10,000 cheque that came with it.

Earlier in the week Styres caught up with three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart — who has committed to defending his World of Outlaws win at Ohsweken last season.

“I’ll be back in July,” Stewart said at Daytona. “It is something I told Glen last week that I am really looking forward to.”

BARRICHELLO TESTING THE INDYCAR WATERS

Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello still hasn’t committed to racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season in the KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.

But he was still out there testing the Dallara DW12 this past weekend at California’s Infineon Raceway.

Rumour has it he wants to get paid — what a concept — but the team is still trying to come up with a sponsor.

Of the test Barrichello said: “If everything can fall into place and I do run with IndyCar and KV Racing Technology for the season, it has been very valuable. It has been a good couple of days and I am pleased. I hope I have helped the team further.”


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