Persistent rain forced the postponement of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 from its scheduled Sunday start, causing motorsport's biggest day to end in something of a damp squib.
While the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 ran as planned, the longest Sprint Cup race of them all had to be moved to Monday, where it will now take place at noon ET, as a heavy shower drenched the track at Lowe's Motor Speedway just as crews were rolling their cars out of the garage after pre-race ceremonies. With rain continuing to fall throughout the evening, NASCAR took the decision to announce the postponement at 2026hrs local time.
Track president Marcus Smith said that, even if the rain stopped, the time needed to dry the 1.5-mile track would prevent the race from being concluded at a reasonable hour, but things aren't much more certain for Monday, where the forecast predicts scattered thunderstorms with a 60 per cent chance of rain.
The switch to a noon start also means that crew chiefs will have a lot of work to do before the start of the race.
“Everyone was set up for racing at night,” explained Kurt Busch, who will start 17th in the #2 Penske Dodge, “This will really have everyone scratching their heads, that's for sure.
"We were hoping to have an adjustable set-up here tonight [and] running here [Monday] will definitely put a bigger premium on the adjustability factor. I know everyone will be really loose at the start of the race because all the rubber got washed off the track. It'll get tighter as the race goes on, and that's where the adjustability comes in.”
Elton Sawyer, competition director for Red Bull Racing which fields Toyotas for Brian Vickers and rookie Scott Speed, said the delay was an inconvenience but would have a negligible effect on the team's ability to get to Dover in time for next Sunday's Cup race.
“As far as Dover, yeah, we do have time,” Sawyer said, “We can run tomorrow and still be able to meet our schedule. Our truck can be out of there Wednesday and be ready for Dover and not be a real problem. The worst part is [Monday] is a holiday, and everyone wants to be on the lake. You can't do anything about the weather, so we'll do what we have to do.”
This is the second time the 600 has been postponed, but the first because of weather. The first 600, in 1960, was pushed back three weeks because of construction delays. The race has been shortened by rain three times, the most recent in 2003, when Jimmie Johnson was declared the winner after 414 miles, or 276 of the scheduled 400 laps.
by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service