Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
An crew member walks past race cars covered to protect them from the rain before the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
NASCAR postpones Daytona 500 to Monday night
First Published Feb 26 2012 11:45 am • Last Updated Feb 27 2012 02:32 pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. • Are you ready for some racing - some Monday night racing?

NASCAR pushed the start of its season-opening Daytona 500 to Monday night, under the lights and in primetime for the first time in its history.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"We hope to have ‘Lady and gentlemen, start your engines,’ at 7:02 and then warm up and go to green flag," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "We believe this is a reasonable expectation."

Helton made the announcement Monday morning when it became clear that steady rain at Daytona International Speedway made an evening start the best option for NASCAR’s marquee event. Helton also said Tuesday has not been ruled out.

Heavy rain all day Sunday forced NASCAR to postpone the event for the first time in its 54-year history.

Carl Edwards, runner-up to Tony Stewart in last year’s championship race, will start from the pole. Former IndyCar star Danica Patrick will make her Daytona 500 debut.

If NASCAR gets the race in Monday night, aired on Fox, it could produce record ratings for a series that’s coming off one of its most compelling seasons. NASCAR also had a strong SpeedWeeks, marked by the return of pack racing, two new winners in the lower series, Patrick winning the pole for the Nationwide Series race and many multi-car accidents.

"Certainly we’d like to think that when we do run the Daytona 500 and the trophy is handed to the winner and there is a Daytona 500 champion for 2012," said Helton, "that that sustains and then launches us into the 2012 season with all the right effort and promotions."

NASCAR officials spent more than four hours Sunday waiting for a window to dry the famed track, but it never came. When the latest storm cell passed over the speedway around 5 p.m., they had little choice but to call it a day.

The Sunday postponement was a huge disappointment.


story continues below
story continues below

With several intriguing story lines on tap, NASCAR is hoping to capitalize on the success of last season’s down-to-the-wire championship race between Edwards and Stewart.

The most significant of them all could be Patrick. The Daytona 500 is the first of 10 scheduled Sprint Cup Series events for Patrick, who left IndyCar behind for a full-time move to NASCAR. She will race for the Nationwide Series championship driving for JR Motorsports.

Stewart, the three-time and defending champion, is trying to snap a 0-for-13 losing streak in the Daytona 500. His 17 victories at Daytona include everything but the 500, ranking him second on the all-time list behind Dale Earnhardt’s 34 wins. Stewart will start third when the green flag drops.

And there’s Earnhardt Jr., the 2004 Daytona 500 champion. He takes a 129-race losing streak into the event. His last victory was in 2008, his first season with powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.

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.

"I think that’s a pretty good record for NASCAR," Edwards said. "They’ve been living right to have 53 of these and never have one postponed. That’s pretty spectacular. ... I think NASCAR, they’re doing the right thing, you know, not dragging this out."

Noontime showers Sunday sent fans scattering for cover and leaving everyone in wait-and-see 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.

"I guess I’m gonna have to win the first Monday Daytona 500," said Greg Biffle, who will start second when the race begins.

The last shortened Daytona 500 was Matt Kenseth’s victory three years ago, 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 pothole in the surface. McMurray held off Earnhardt Jr. to win that race.

This time around, drivers didn’t even get in their cars.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.