Eventually, when the rain stops at the Daytona 500, NASCAR's Air Titans will roll out and save the day

Ken Willis
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

If and when the skies clear at Daytona, the most important vehicles in town will be the fleet of Air Titans NASCAR uses to dry its tracks.

NASCAR introduced the Air Titan in 2013. The truck-housed air-compression system blows water off the track and is followed by a vacuum/sweeper truck that sucks up the remaining moisture.

Air Titans are hard at work before the start of the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.

The Titans replaced an old system involving jet dryers pulled by trucks. The time it takes to dry a track depends on a variety of climate factors — wind, humidity, sunshine, etc... — but in decent conditions a track the size of Daytona's 2.5 miles can be dried in an hour or less. It used to take more than twice that long.

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Crew members ready the No. 20 Toyota of Christopher Bell as Air Titans work the track in the background at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.

Back on Thursday, during the second of two 150-mile qualifying races, one of the Air Titans gained unwanted attention when the rear tires of its truck lost grip in the east banking and slid backwards to the track apron.

That's much better than what happened to a jet dryer in the 2012 Daytona 500, when Juan Pablo Montoya had something break in his car during a caution and slammed into a dryer, igniting a fire that scarred the track and further delayed a race that had already been delayed by rain earlier.