Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway dawned warm and sunny. Unfortunately, the thunderstorms first showed up at the track around 1:30 in the afternoon. Lightning struck close to the track, forcing many of the activities for fans in the Midway to shut down prematurely.
The rains eventually stopped, but rain clouds were never all that far away from the track. Around 4pm, the rains returned. This time, they had staying power, delaying Lee Brice’s pre-race concert and driver introductions. However, the rains stayed relatively light, allowing NASCAR to keep the Air Titan 2’s out on track in order to expedite the drying process once the rains actually stopped.
The rains ultimately never stopped. Continuous rains in Daytona Beach are relatively rare in the summertime, but that is exactly what we got on Saturday night. At 8:55 PM, NASCAR called off the race for the night. It has been rescheduled for 11 AM Sunday morning. TNT will have live coverage starting at that time.
Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood, III is disappointed that the race has been postponed, but believes that it was the right decision.
“[We] reached a point where it continues to rain, and we use a time of an hour and 45 minutes to dry the track, which is a really short amount of time using the Air Titans and the jet [driers],” Chitwood said. “Typically, we’d be way over two hours to dry the track. You start thinking about an 11 PM start, which means you would actually finish the event anywhere from 2 AM to a little later. You think about public safety, getting people home [and] all of those things. With the rain still around us, we would not be able to dry the track for a reasonable start time tonight.”
Parking lots for the track will open at 7 AM, while both the gates to the grandstands and garage will open at 9 AM tomorrow. Accu-Weather is predicting a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms in Daytona Beach on Sunday.