Rain continues to affect the 54th running of the Daytona 500, with NASCAR forced to push back the scheduled Monday start time to 7pm ET (midnight GMT) at the earliest.

"We believe this is a reasonable expectation," said NASCAR President Mike Helton, pointing to a number of forecasts that suggest that the rain is likely to clear up this evening after dark.

When storms forced NASCAR to postpone the race on Sunday for the first time in its history, the original hope was to get underway at noon on Monday. But continued persistent rain has made that impossible, and NASCAR have bowed to the reality of the situation and announced that the race will now not start until the evening.

"[Rather than] having everyone sit around and wait for several hours today up until the point where we're confident or have more confidence that we can run the race, [it] was more prudent to do it this way," said Helton.

The 7pm start time is a "best guess" at this point and it could be later if the rain is slow in clearing up or the track takes longer to dry off. The US broadcasters of the race, Fox Sports, are committed to showing the race live no matter what time it starts.

Everyone is fervently hoping that the race will run tonight and not roll over a second day but Helton confirmed that "Tuesday is an option before we'd have to reconsider packing up and leaving," even though "We're focused on today right now."

"We'll wait until the last possible minute that we would not run the race," added the president of Dayton International Speedway, Joie Chitwood III. "We want to exhaust every opportunity of getting the track dry and running the race."

There is considerable pressure to get the race run today, and not just because of the escalating costs of opening the Speedway and bringing in staff for a second extra day if the race is forced to roll over to Tuesday.

The biggest headache for NASCAR itself is getting teams and equipment across country to Arizona for next weekend's race at Phoenix. The haulers take two days just to make the distance and that's not including packing and setting-up time, and Nationwide and Sprint Cars are due on track early on Friday for the weekend's race activities.

"As far as turnaround time, it will be difficult," admitted Joey Logano's crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing, Jason Ratcliff. "Getting the truck back, from that standpoint, it will be difficult. As far as being prepared as a race team, we'll just have to start doing some of our prep work that we normally do at the shop here at the race track instead."

"It's because there's a lot of stuff on this truck that is speedway-only," explained AJ Allmendinger's crew chief at Penske Racing, Todd Gordon. "You want to get the truck back to the shop for a swap-out, to get this stuff off and get our short track and intermediate track stuff back on the truck. That's some of the stuff that we're talking about."

With the teams already having been situated at Daytona for over a week for the full 2012 Speedweeks, there are some other even more fundamental issues piling up - literally.

"You accumulate a lot of dirty laundry in ten days," deadpanned Ratcliff.

The delay is also not great for the drivers, who got themselves all psyched up for the race on Sunday and now have to try and keep their heads in the game ready for the race whenever it does start - today, tonight or tomorrow.

"This is a tough situation and this is something that we don't ever wish on any sport or any person is to have inclement weather because our activities are outside," said Greg Biffle who is due to start on the front row of the grid alongside Carl Edwards. "It can always happen. It can snow. It can rain. It can freeze. Anything can happen, but, unfortunately, we're just gonna have to hurry up and wait. It's like watching paint dry because you look out the window and it's still raining."

"For all of us it is now who can really stay focused," said Edwards. "That is not just the drivers; it is the pit crews, crew chiefs and everyone, including the officials. I think we will be just fine."

One thing that the heavy rain over the past two days will definitely mean is that the speedway will have all the rubber that's built up on the track washed away and it'll be back to 'green' conditions for the start of the race.

"I think this race track, because of the grip and the downforce the race cars have, I think that you won't see a big difference with the track rubbering up," was Biffle's view on that issue. "I think for that first run the track is gonna get some rubber on it ... It'll just be fast when we start, but then it'll be the same game after the first pit stop."

"The only thing is that the rain will make the track a little more abrasive to start," added Edwards. "I think NASCAR will have a competition caution and we will get to look at the tyres."

But everyone agrees, they're hanging in at Daytona unless and until the race gets done one way or another.

"Let me put it this way, if I did have any plans I would go ahead and put them on hold for the Daytona 500," smiled Edwards.

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