FOX Sports Exclusive
Rain pushes Daytona 500 to 7 p.m. ET
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.
NASCAR officials have announced they will attempt to run the Daytona 500 at 7:02 p.m. ET Monday. The race will air at 7 p.m. ET live on FOX.
Originally, the planned restart of the rain-postponed race was at noon Monday.
NASCAR returns to FOX at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. The green flag drops at 6 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said that officials would be drying the track all day long and would be working on preparing it for the start "whenever feasible." Track president Joie Chitwood III added the group considered the fan in trying to make this decision as early as possible.
"Through the evening and as we collaborated this morning with all the stakeholders, Joie from the racetrack, weather experts and other industry folks, including the broadcast partners and other representatives, based on the weather forecast that everybody has convinced us of from here through mid afternoon, 60, 70, 80 percent chances of rain, we're going to wait in announcing right now that the effort to run the Daytona is now shifting from noon until 7 p.m. this afternoon," Helton said.
He added that he believes the planned 7:02 start command is a "reasonable expectation."
The pair opted not to have fans sitting around all day waiting for the race to get under way.
Rain has been an issue all weekend at Daytona International Speedway, where track and NASCAR officials have been working valiantly to run the Daytona 500 since Sunday afternoon.
Rain caused the first postponement of the race in its 54-year history on Sunday. The weather forecast calls for rain throughout today. According to weather.com, there is an 80 percent chance of rain throughout the morning. That chance dips slightly to 55 percent at 1 p.m., then to 30 percent starting at 4 p.m. However, the forecast does call for some degree of rain until around 7 p.m. ET, the new start time.
There is still some flexibility in terms of start time if weather makes it difficult to hit the planned start time.
It takes around two hours to dry the track, depending on conditions.
"We do want to make the best decision possible, and we did that with a lot of people's input, a lot of effort and a lot of thought process going into the community, public service groups that have to support the event, the ticket buyers who invested in their money and time to be here to see the Daytona 500 as part of Speedweeks, and the fans who were at home expecting to sit and watch the Daytona 500," Helton said.
"So we've had a mesh of all of those stakeholders in the decision-making process, but also a mesh of all the stakeholders in making the decision to come to the one we did today. And in today's world, with the ability to communicate, we felt like that instead of sitting here and waiting all day long with the information that we had that presented not a very favorable forecast between now and later this afternoon, I couldn't sit here and guarantee you we'll start at 7, but our confidence of starting at 7 this afternoon is a whole lot better than it is at noon, which is why we made the plan."
Helton added that the 7 p.m. start is not a drop-dead time. If rain disrupts the plans, the race could be in a delay for a time before the green flag waves.
And, Helton pointed out, the possibility of racing here on Tuesday does exist. The Sprint Cup teams have to be in Phoenix on Thursday for the race on Sunday, so there is a tight time constraint after today.
Still, that doesn't mean that the Daytona 500 could not be run here Tuesday should rain hamper tonight's effort further.
"Tuesday is an option," Helton said. "We're focused on today and this afternoon right now, but just so everyone knows, Tuesday is an option before we'd have to reconsider packing up and leaving. But tomorrow is an option."
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