The current inclement weather affecting much of the Eastern Seaboard of North America forced Sunday's Dura Lube 400 at the North Carolina Speedway to be postponed after just 50 laps had been completed.

NASCAR's valiant attempts to carry on where they left off at lap 199 of last Sunday's Daytona 500 were scuppered by the weather today as the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham remained under thick cloud cover all morning and light but persistent rain coated the 1.017-mile oval just as racing was about to get underway.

Pre-race activities in honour of the late Dale Earnhardt included a fly-past from the US air force, whose demonstration team deliberately flew with one plane absent from the formation, and a minute's silence instigated by the recently retired Darrell Waltrip. However the track remained damp and the crowd had to wait more than 90-minutes before racing actually began.

Well, there was three-quarters of a lap worth of racing with Jeff Gordon getting the drop on fellow-front row man Steve Park and Tony Stewart making a bold move on the high-line to pick up three spots and move into third.

However back in the middle of the pack there was contact as Ron Hornaday ran into the rear of Dale Earnhardt Jr's Budweiser Chevrolet as Dale checked up to avoid a somewhat erratic Robby Gordon. Earnhardt Jr was pushed into the wall where he was collected by Mike and Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer and the resulting damage was enough to put him out of the race and end what has been one of the most difficult weekend's of his short career.

Also out on the spot was Kenny Wallace while brother Mike and Jimmy Spencer both made frequent visits to the pits during the ensuing caution period to make the necessary repairs to the damaged machines.

What should have been a quick caution period turned into a long one when the rain began to fall and for another 20-minuted the cars and the jet blowers circulated slowly in unison as the moisture was once again removed before the green flag finally fell on lap 31.

Once again Gordon got the drop on Park who, in turn was able to hold off the advancing Stewart and the top two were quick to establish a good ten-car length gap back to the No.20 Home Depot Pontiac.

On lap 44 Park finally managed to muscle his way beneath Gordon to take the lead to a monstrous applause from the assembled crowd who have stood firm behind both Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc all weekend. But Park's joy was short-lived as just two laps later the yellows were out once more and a quick look at the tens of umbrella's being hastily put up in the stands spoke for itself.

This time the rain was more persistent and after several laps under caution, in which everyone save Stacy Compton made their first scheduled fuel and tyre stops, the red flag was held out when it became clear that the rain was here to stay.

The remaining 342 laps of the 2001 Dura Lube 400 will hopefully be completed on Monday with the cars, now led by Compton, Gordon and Park, taking the green flag at 11am local time (4pm UK time).


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