A hearty bunch: NASCAR fans return to danger zone

Say this about NASCAR fans: They don’t frighten easily.

One day after a harrowing crash injured dozens of fans in the
stands, those same seats are filling up for the Daytona 500.

No one seems too concerned.

”These should be good seats,” said Rick Barasso, as he settled
into a spot that was right in the danger zone when Kyle Larson’s
car slammed into the catch fencing on the final lap of a Nationwide
Series race Saturday. ”I mean, what are the chances of it
happening again?”

That seems to be the prevailing attitude of the fans heading
into the Daytona 500, the season-opening Cup race and biggest event
on the NASCAR schedule. Most people say it’s worth the risk to sit
next to the ear-rattling action – no more than 20 feet away for
those in the first row. They love to hear the engines, smell the
exhaust, feel the wind whipping in their face as 43 cars go by at
nearly 200 mph.

Still, there are a few fans fretting about the location of their
seats.

Raymond Gober returned to the same location where he was nearly
struck by a bolt from Larson’s car. He scooped up the debris as a
souvenir, though he acknowledged being a little nervous about his
seat on the back row of the lower level. He even considered wearing
his motorcycle helmet to the 500, but figured ”everybody would
start laughing at me.” Next year, he plans to buy an upper-level
seat in the main grandstand.

”My dad called and said, `You’re sitting in the same seats? `”
Gober said. ”He couldn’t believe it.”

There are grim reminders of what happened Saturday: a bloody
spot that had been washed down (not entirely, though), a tire mark
on a seat, another seat that was partially bent from getting struck
by that same tire.

– Paul Newberry – http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

EDITOR’S NOTE – ”Daytona 500 Watch” shows you the Daytona 500
and events surrounding the race through the eyes of Associated
Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter.

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