NASCAR Notes - Storm floods Richmond, another threatens Daytona

Posted: Wednesday, September 01, 2004

FONTANA, Calif. -- As work crews deal with flooding at and around the Richmond International Raceway in the wake of Tropical Storm Gaston, crews at the Daytona International Speedway are "battening down the hatches" as Hurricane Frances approaches.

Gaston dumped a foot of rain on Richmond Monday, forcing local officials to condemn several blocks of the downtown area. At the speedway, there was flooding and a loss of power for about a day.

"We're surviving," said Keith Green, the track's director of public relations. "We had no power and there was some flooding. Those pictures you saw of cars floating in the flooding was less than six blocks from here. We were lucky, track-wise."

Green said many of the roadways leading into the speedway were still closed Wednesday as the raceway continued to prepare for next week's Busch and Nextel Cup series races. Also many of the buildings in the infield of the three-quarter-mile speedway were flooded during the storm.

And while the speedway was without power on Tuesday, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Terry Labonte still managed to complete a test session for the Chevy Rock N Roll 400.

The Daytona International Speedway was spared major damage from Hurricane Charley three weeks ago, but the racetrack wasn't dropping its guard as Frances approaches. Daytona Beach is in the middle of the projected path.

Speedway spokesman David Talley said the interest in Frances' approach was so strong at the speedway and its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, on Tuesday, it created a logjam on the company's Internet system.

CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP: The Chase for the Championship, which includes a furious battle among 10 drivers for the final five qualifying spots, has been so popular it's not likely there will be any changes for the 2005 season.

Brian France, NASCAR chairman, said he loves what the made-for-television program has done for the sport -- and what it can do against the National Football League on competing networks during the final 10 weeks of the season.

"I'm a little biased but it's been everything we could have ever hoped for -- and maybe a little more," he said.

RETIREMENT FLOODGATE: Rusty Wallace said his announced retirement following the 2005 season will create a stir among the veterans on the Nextel Cup Series circuit.

Mark Martin will probably make the 2005 campaign his last, according to his car owner Jack Roush. And Terry Labonte said Tuesday he soon will announce a plan to make part-time appearances.

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