Wireless internet connectivity at a NASCAR race can be a challenge. Just ask a NASCAR crew chief.
NASCAR and Verizon — the parent company of Yahoo Sports — announced Thursday that Verizon would upgrade the wireless internet access at all 12 Cup Series tracks owned by the sanctioning body. The move will make Verizon the official wireless partner of NASCAR. And, most importantly for fans, mean that connecting to the internet and sending texts and making calls at a NASCAR race will not be a painful process in the future.
“The thousands of fans attending NASCAR events across the country need reliable connectivity to share and send photos and videos of races in real-time, stay up-to-date on their favorite drivers, and connect with fellow fans inside and outside the track,” Verizon senior vice president George Fischer said. “As the official wireless provider for NASCAR, we are looking forward to enhancing the fan experience today and working together to revolutionize the future of the racing experience for drivers and fans.”
Connectivity at NASCAR tracks can be an issue because tracks and their surrounding areas take up so much more real estate than a typical stadium or arena. Verizon’s investment will ease those issues at NASCAR-owned tracks over the next three years. NASCAR recently acquired tracks previously owned by spinoff company International Speedway Corporation in a merger announced in 2019.
One of those tracks owned by NASCAR is Daytona International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Daytona 500. During the first Duel qualifying race Thursday night, Daniel Suarez crashed with Ryan Blaney. Suarez made contact with Blaney as a group of Ford drivers pitted ahead of him. Blaney, also driving a Ford, was not in line with the pitting Ford drivers and not in an ideal position to pit. And therefore he was in Suarez’s way.
Part of the reason that he wasn’t lined up was because of the spotty internet connection at Daytona. Blaney’s crew chief Todd Gordon said he was having issues chatting with other crew chiefs because of the internet quality.
“That was dumb on my part trying to pit,” @Blaney says. “I didn’t know we were pitting”.— Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) February 14, 2020
“Yeah, we didn’t communicate that well as a group. Internet down here is suspect as best,” Todd Gordon replies.
The crash meant Suarez failed to qualify for the Daytona 500. Suarez entered Thursday night’s qualifying race without a guaranteed starting spot in the 500 and had to race his way into the biggest race of the season. Instead, Reed Sorenson qualified for the Daytona 500 while Suarez will be somewhere other than the cockpit of his race car.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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