DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Daytona 500’s 53-year run of starting on time – and finishing on the same day – came to a soggy end Sunday.
A persistent rain kept all 43 cars parked on pit road for four hours before NASCAR finally pulled the plug and rescheduled the start for noon today.
Although the 1965, 1966, 2003 and 2009 Daytona were shortened by rain, stock car’s biggest race had never missed a scheduled green flag start.
“That’s a pretty good record – 53 of these, they must be living right,” Carl Edwards said. “NASCAR did the right thing by not dragging this out.”
“Hurry up and wait,” said Chad Johnston, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.
The Sprint Cup Series schedule compresses 36 regular season and two all-star events into a 40-week stretch. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, especially when next week’s race is at Phoenix.
Johnston knows his team will be working around the clock to get to Phoenix. If the weather cooperates today – and there’s a 50 percent chance of more showers – haulers will get home to North Carolina after midnight, only to get back on the road by noon Tuesday for the 30-hour cross-country haul.
“If we get it in Monday we’ll be all right,” Johnston said. “Any later than that, we’re all in trouble.”
Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said there are no other plans other than racing today.
“It’s tough to even talk Tuesday until we get through (Monday),” he said. “We’ll play it out the best we can. We’ll wait until the last possible minute.”