Updated at: 02/14/2013 3:38 PM
By DAN GELSTON
(AP) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Daytona is going dry.
No, not in the stands, where fans attending the Daytona 500 can still drink and have fun watching the race.
On the track.
NASCAR has a new track drying system that will debut during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. The device should reduce track drying time, perhaps up to 80 percent. NASCAR is calling the system the "Air Titan." The machine pushes water off the track and onto an apron where vacuum trucks will remove the remainder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow the Air Titan, drying all excess water left on the racing surface.
Last year’s Daytona 500 was plagued by rain and the race was moved to a Monday for the first time.
The track-drying trucks will not be on the track with other cars. Juan Pablo Montoya sparked a giant fireball in last year’s race when he crashed into a jet dryer loaded with fuel.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations, said this was only phase one of the project.
"It was something that was thought about, but I think obviously sped up after having to move that race to Monday for the first time ever," he said. "When we really looked at it, there’s been no new technology since 1976. It was kind of like, `What are we doing?’"
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)