Off Track: Battle At The Beach Turns Short Track Racing Into Comical Punchline Tuesday

It was supposed to be an event that would put short track racing’s best on NASCAR’s biggest stage and open the eyes of viewers on Speed to how good grassroots motorsports competition could be.

Kyle Larson’s mangled car after winning the Whelen All-American Series event Monday at the Battle At The Beach in Daytona (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

It was supposed to be.

NASCAR’s inaugural Battle at the Beach certainly opened eyes, but hardly for its events’ resemblance to what most see from short track and regional touring racing week to week across the country.

Three races on the NASCAR invented .4-mile flat oval on the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway produced three last lap finishes highlighted by drivers getting blatantly wrecked out of the lead in each race.

And to make it all that more interesting, three races, three leaders dumped, and nary a penalty handed down by officials.

Where is this fantasy world where that is the type of competition that represents short track racing?

In the end, The Battle At The Beach was a essentially a circus without a tent. An ugly caricature of the worst short track racing can be.

At its core the problems stemmed from asking drivers to compete on what was essentially a flawed race course purpose built to seemingly cause mayhem. Passing meant wrecking, that held true in all three divisions.

The fact is, chalk outlines on pavement are for marking where dead bodies fell or playing hopscotch, not for designing racetracks. If short track racing was meant to be contested in oversized parking lots, there’d be 4,000 Walmart Speedway’s across America today.

And worst of all was seeing the Whelen Modified Tour turned into a laughingstock punchline nationally for the evening.

During a 17-caution, 150-lap wreckfest for the Modified Tour, social media exploded with jokes and insults directed at the Tour and it’s drivers from across the spectrum of motorsports.

From national media, to upper level NASCAR drivers to those from divisions away from NASCAR, everybody jumped on the bandwagon lambasting the Modified Tour for being a bunch of awful drivers who couldn’t string together more three or four laps of green flag racing at a time.

Even Darrell Waltrip, the guy who never speaks a negative word about anything that has the word NASCAR attached to it, was chiming in on Twitter and taking shots at the Modified Tour.

Remember, this was supposed to be an event to showcase short track drivers and the divisions they run. Instead, the showcase was to put Dunce caps on them all and tell the world they’re clowns.

Speed already has a show called The Dumbest Stuff on Wheels, it didn’t need to be replicated for two nights in Daytona by short track racers.

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  1. I was very disappointed with what happened during the last two nights. When Joey Logano was disqualified for intentionally crashing leader in 2008 for the Toyota All-Star Showdown. It was right and just. The race was controlled and was in order. But for the last two days it felt like a no rule enduro race with cautions. It was a joke that they used the back stretch as track. I've seen better races at Bristol and New Hampshire that were on TV. NASCAR needs to wake up and stop wasting loco drivers money and get things organized.

    I can tell right now when the Tour stops by the Bowl this year. You will only see 15 Mods show up. Going all the way down to Daytona had to put a dent into their budget. Also does anyone know why Donny Lia stopped on the track. On TV you can see that he puked. Was he sick?

  2. Darrell should keep his mouth shut jaws has been dead a long time he just don't relize it nascar should be ashamed for putting all these racers on that track terrible configuration so tight the g forces made donny puck plus all the torn up car in each of the three races have a lotta car owners pucking this morning this will go into to history as the puck races as for waltrips statement you cant fix stupid..

  3. Yeah, that about sums it up.

  4. Nascar set the mods up to fail.

  5. And how does this article help or support the Modifieds? Would it have been better if the Modifieds were not given this opportunity to race at Daytona International Speedway? Why does your glass have to be half empty?

  6. At least everyone is talking about it I guess…NASCAR will listen and hopefully improve this event.

  7. It doesn't help or support modifieds but, it was the truth. It was a joke. I looked like a bunch of drivers who were clueless and none of them deserved to be on national TV, IMO.

  8. Perfect:

  9. Jeff Schmidt says

    On many occasions I've witnessed the same end results as far as last lap "wreck the leader" or just plain "dirty " driving at Stafford by their own favorite "other son " with almost never a penalty . No wonder the short track guys get a bad rap.. But Daytona and their version of a Great show was huge failure. As far as showing the world about talented short track guys !

  10. They spent money to go down there and race not wreck. Why not let them run the old enduro track once a year if that was so good.

  11. Wayne Schreyer says

    An online article from " THE CONSTIPATION STATE"

  12. its a crying shame. nascar on board to destroy its oldest and mightiest division. last nights demolition derby is not a true reflection of our premeir division.

  13. two days the music died. feb 03, 1959 and feb 18, 2001.

  14. Brent Gleason says

    Here's a redeeming view of why our beloved Modified Tour is in fact worthy of national attention:

  15. I thought Nascar was going to Build a track in the infield, not race on the backstretch. they might want to consolidate the stands a little, since on TV it looked pretty empty there.

  16. If Daytona wants to highlight short track racing then they should build a half-mile track in the infield with banked turns and a fence all the way around for crissakes. What Daytona did was bush league, building a track in a driveway. Our drivers are better than that. Once again, NASCAR trips over its dick.

  17. Yes they would have been much better off. NASCAR PR is centered solely around social media these days. Judging from the reaction on social media I would say this was a PR fail. Shawn is merely stating the facts. Mike Stefanik is a nine time NASCAR Champion who has represented this sport with dignity and class for over 30 years. He does not need to be involved with a circus. NASCAR doesn't deserve to have him repres3nt them after that fiasco.

  18. Nascrap at its finest. Too bad our tour drivers let themselves get sucked into the hype. I remember when going to a tour race meant watching the best of the best ( without the money) race side by side and put on an amazing show. Guys like Richie and Charlie J, Gentlemen Jim, Freddy Harbach. Didnt matter what was there home track. They all had one thing in common. RESPECT. Promoters wonder why they are losing fans. Well if you watched the same race I did. Thats your typical short track now. When are these promoters going to stop kissing Nascraps Ass and show them how to run a real race. Its time for Promoters to take charge of there own racetracks. Park the dumpers and dirty drivers. Sit the hole dam division, if they cant get through fifty laps without playing take out the leader. Bottom line that was plain horrible

  19. Adam Zuidema says

    A puck is for Hockey. Puke or vomit, come from your mouth…

  20. Adam Zuidema says

    Also, from Donnie Lia's FB Page in response to a question about the vomiting:

    Stomach tore up. He was feeling sick before race and it kept getting worse throughout race. – PR

  21. Well said Mr.Kearns.I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on nascar to change anything either.

  22. whenever they change anything lately its usually for the worst if it involves short tracks.

  23. track to narrow to race anything on it period never mind a modified every division struggled on it change it or don't go back.

  24. Mike Jamieson says

    I agree. The backyard style track was too flat. While the modifieds are more equipt to race on flat than most other divisions it still makes for an extremely challenging situation. Even on the flattest tracksin the modified circuit there's still a little banking. A few degrees makes a huge difference

  25. I hear ya Mike, I'm glad I didn't waste my money and fly down. What do you think of tri oval and pit road configeration?

  26. Mike Rought says

    It's a shame the mods don't get the respect great racing great drivers but yet nascar has always looked down on them even when they make them millions. total crap

  27. Mike Perrotti says

    don't think the article helps. but it is the truth. they would have been better to stage the event a new smyrna speedway. a real track not a go-cart track on steriods. convinced some people in the bar to watch the speed channel with me that never watched a mod race and i was trying to tell them what a great division this is and how much fun they are to watch…. i ended up apologizing for making them watch…not the mods, steve park or nascar officiatings finest hour ….

  28. Yes, Stafford. It would have been better if the Mods were not given this "opportunity". The short "track" was THE. WORST. EVER.

  29. the only problem would be grandstands and the fans which nascar doesnt want to spend a dime on as you can see from that track that they put some cones out and said get after boys give me a break

  30. Debbie Dee Rosa Mordino says

    Tony Mordino
    I was at the race and everything was handled well except the track layout, which contributed to the cautions. Joe Chitwood and Ken Squire both asked the Fans to speak up and write them with suggestions (before the race). I do not believe they intentionally tried to make the Tour look bad. Do Mods a favor and write in without crucifying NASCAR.

  31. Rich Wisniewski says

    How is this article hurting them? All you needed to do was watch the race. Right now the modifieds are the laughing stock of the racing world. The worst thing about it is from reading all the social media it seems that there were quite a few people that were watching the mod race that had no idea what a mod even was. And this is what they see? A complete joke of a race. It is sad but true. If they get invited to go down next year and race on the same "track", I hope to god that nobody goes.

  32. Rich Keator says

    VIA the Mystic Missile Racing FB page:

    From Donny Lia:
    "Thanks to everyone who called or msg'd… means a lot to see how many people really care about you. High Co2 levels was the cause. They can't really figure it out especially with open cockpit car, but thankfully I'm ok. I pulled off worried about passing out. Puking was an added bonus. Still passing cars half passed out. Thanks to my guys for busting their butts as usual.. we'll just get ready and go get'em at Thompson. Thanks again everyone"

  33. Did you expect anything more! Nascar could care less about the lower (feeder divisions) of Nascar. When R J Reynolds was involved we had 93 tracks under the Nascar Banner, today about thirty. The K@N race was not much better, In fact It appears Nascar is getting ready to dump the west, look at there schedule, The Toyota shootout was a great venue, It died because Nascar dumped the touring cars, It would have been better to not do this at all, If you can’t do something right, don’t do it, Nascar needs to pay attention to the top three, Big Bill must be turning in his grave, In two generations they have gave up control of Nascar to television, Boys have at it, the Cot, the chase. Realistically they are chasing off the major portion of their fan base, For a new generation? That believes Wrecks, Dirty driving, carnage, and Cheating will bring them back for more? Not me I’m about done with this Nascar circus.

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