Rain has more consequences than just delaying the race. Track drying is really hard on the surface. Most materials expand when they heat. (Water is a notable exception). Asphalt is a mix of different types of rocks held together by an asphalt binder. When you heat the asphalt with a track dryer, you are putting a lot of heat into the track. Different materials expand at different rates, and the amount of heat that reaches the inner layers of track is different than the amount on the surface. The rapid change in temperature creates a lot of stress in the asphalt. Track surfaces, like people, tend to crack when under stress.
There are already a lot of cracks in the Daytona surface that are covered by sealer and other fixes (like epoxy). Sealers also expand and contract at different rates, so thoses are high priority places to watch for new problems. Given the age of the track, it is entirely possible that there are areas that are weak or cracked just under the surface that might be pushed to the brink with a little thermal cycling. (Thermal cycling being repeated heating and warming.) The Daytona track folks will walk the track, but all they can see is the surface. Keep your fingers crossed not only that we don’t have rain delaying or canceling the race, but that we don’t have rain period! I don’t envy the track personnel today – they are going to be really happy when the track reconstruction starts.
Take a look at my earlier post on the Daytona issue.
Questions: email diandra(at)buildingspeed.org. Will try to answer during the race, but there’s a possibility that I’m going to be at Best Buy asking them to “demonstrate” their 3D TV’s!