A tweet posted by NASCAR’s most popular driver raised the possibility of night racing coming to Delaware’s Dover International Speedway.
Thursday afternoon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. posted a picture on Twitter of foundations along the outside wall surrounding the mile-long track in Dover. “I see foundations for light poles @MonsterMile. #NightRacing,” he wrote. That statement and picture was retweeted more than 400 times and favorited by more than 1,000 people.
While Dover has lights for its infield harness track, the one mile oval that NASCAR drivers will race on this weekend is not lit.
Dover International Speedway’s Gary Camp explained that Earnhardt was mistaken. “The column that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. saw was installed over the summer in anticipation of a new catch fence.”
The catch fence separates the track from the stands and is designed to protect fans from debris and to prevent cars from leaving the track if they become airborne during an accident.
Construction on the new catch fence will begin after this weekend’s racing and is scheduled to be finished before the circuit returns to Dover at the end of May 2015.
While not ruling out the future possibility of night racing in Delaware, Camp said, “No lights for now.”
Track officials are expecting more attention on this race than in previous years due to NASCAR’s latest twist in the Chase playoff format. Four out of the 16 drivers who are in the Chase for the title will be eliminated at the end of the race.
Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are both guaranteed spots in the next round of the Chase after finishing first in the first two races of the playoffs.
“As for the 10-race Chase format, the changes will certainly be good for Dover,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports earlier this year when the new format was announced. He said Sunday’s elimination race at Dover should create a level of excitement similar to the NFL playoffs. “The fans will love this.”
The green flag drops on Sunday’s race at 2 p.m.