DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Daytona 500 has been postponed for the first time in its 54-year history.
NASCAR postponed The Great American Race after heavy rain saturated Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Officials spent more than four hours waiting for a window to dry the famed track, but it never came. And when the latest storm cell passed over the speedway, they had little choice but to call it a day and reschedule.
The 500- mile race was rescheduled to run today at noon, airing on Fox.
“This is one of the toughest things for us drivers,” polesitter Carl Edwards said. “It’s now who can really stay focused. That’s not just the drivers, that’s the pit crews, the crew chiefs, everyone, the officials. But I think we’ll be just fine.”
The forecast for today calls for more rain, and officials are prepared to wait all day and into the night to avoid a Tuesday race.
Eight previous Daytona 500s have endured rain delays, the latest in 2009. But never before had storms forced NASCAR’s premier event to be moved.
Noontime showers sent fans scattering for cover and leaving everyone in wait-andsee mode. Puddles of water formed in parts of the infield, and many fans got drenched as they tried to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Drivers retreated to their motorhomes, relaxing while keeping an eye on developments. Edwards, Brad Keselowski and others took naps. Former Daytona 500 winners Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne did in-studio interviews with Fox. Another previous race winner, Ryan Newman, played with his daughter in the motorhome lot.
The last shortened Daytona 500 was Matt Kenseth’s 2009 victory, when rain stopped the event 48 laps from the finish. He was declared the winner while the cars were parked on pit road.
The 2010 race had more than two hours in delays as NASCAR twice stopped the event to fix a pesky pothole in the surface. Jamie McMurray held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win that race.
This time around, drivers didn’t even get in their cars.
Now, NASCAR will have to deal with the downside of moving its biggest race. Ratings and attendance will suffer, and its showcase event won’t get the audience the series expected.
The opener will feature several intriguing story lines for a racing series trying to capitalize on the success of last season’s captivating championship race.
The Daytona 500 is the first of 10 scheduled Sprint Cup Series events this season for Danica Patrick, who left Indy- Car behind for a full- time move to NASCAR. She will race for the Nationwide Series championship driving for JR Motorsports.
She arrived at the pre-race driver meeting Sunday with three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, the owner of her Cup car. Stewart is trying to snap an 0- for- 13 losing streak in NASCAR’s biggest race of the year.