SPARTA, Ky. — Rain Saturday night forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway until Sunday.
The 400-mile event was rescheduled for Sunday at noon.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start on the pole in a Chevy alongside Carl Edwards’ Ford.
It was the circuit’s first postponement since last year’s season-opening Daytona 500. The marquee event ran the following night for the first time in its history.
The rescheduling creates the first day Cup race for the 1.5-mile oval after two events at night.
Showers were forecast all day around the state, which arrived around mid-afternoon with a heavy downpour followed by sporadic rain.
NASCAR delayed the start and held out hope for a late start with jet driers on the track, but another band of rain led officials to postpone the race just after 9 p.m.
“We knew it would be touch-and-go and from early in the morning we were tracking the weather,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. “We dispatched the driers and they stayed out ahead of it, but the weather cells never did move out of the area and they looked like they would linger.
“It’s a 90-minute to two-hour window with the best of conditions, and once it reached around 9 p.m. and it was still raining and in the forecast, we made the decision we thought was best.”
Rain was the only thing that kept Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari from driving the (fast) lane Saturday night.
Initially slated to ride shotgun as the honorary pace car driver, Calipari was asked to drive the Ford Fusion leading the 43-car field to the green flag.
Calipari agreed and received crash-course instruction from Cup driver Kurt Busch, whose 90-mph splits in the rain around the 1.5-mile oval had the coach “white-knuckled” and holding on tightly on the passenger side.
Besides instruction from the 2004 Cup champion, Calipari got a specially-made racing jacket embroidered with the terms “eight-time” – referring to Kentucky’s eight national championships – and his trademark “Refuse to Lose” slogan.
Drivers also signed the jacket, which will be auctioned for charity.