Daytona International Speedway was draped in rain and dark clouds Sunday afternoon. Today’s, race, the Daytona 500, which was to start at 1:29 PM Eastern Standard Time, was put on hold due to the wet track. At 4 PM today, track officials are attempting to dry the track, a process that takes about 2 hours – but they may be fighting a losing battle. Radar shows rain showers headed toward the track.
The rain was not totally unexpected. It’s been in the forecast for about a week. But Daytona officials sound determined to run the race if the track can be dried. “We are prepared to turn on the lights if we have to,” said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood.
If the race is pushed back into the evening and not postponed to another day, it may well coincide with two other major TV events this evening, the NBA All-Star game and the Oscars. The competition will undoubtedly hurt TV ratings for the race, just as NASCAR was hoping for an uptake in viewership. One of the big draws for today’s race – Danica Patrick in her first Daytona 500. She’s to start 28th. Carl Edwards is in the pole position.
The Daytona 500 has never been pushed back to another day. Many will remember that just two years ago, a pothole developed in the track during the race. Attempts to fix it caused a total of two and a half hours of delays. The track was repaved prior to start of last year’s racing season.