DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – An afternoon at Daytona Int’l Speedway spotlighted by a pre-race visit from President Donald Trump was equally hindered by an unwanted visit from Mother Nature.
Despite the best efforts of NASCAR officials to run the 62nd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, persistent rain showers – punctuated by a monsoon-level downpour just before 6:45 p.m. ET – forced the postponement of the majority of the race to Monday afternoon.
The Great American Race will resume at 4 p.m. ET Monday, live on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR.
An originally-scheduled 3:18 p.m. green flag was delayed slightly due to pre-race festivities featuring President Trump, including the President delivering the command to start engines and pacing the field for a lap in the presidential limousine.
After an additional pace lap honoring the start of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s final full-time season, as the field was rounding turns three and four to come to the green flag, rain in turns one and two forced the caution lights back on – and a lap later, the field to pit road.
Nearly an hour’s delay ensued before green-flag racing was able to begin at 4:20 p.m., but only 20 laps of the scheduled 200 were able to be completed before a second wave of rainfall hit and brought out the red flag at 4:39 p.m.
From there, drying efforts were attempted amid additional sprinkles, but the heaviest rain of the day arrived at a quarter to 7 and wiped out any gains NASCAR had made on the racing surface.
The postponement announcement came roughly five minutes after the deluge began.
Polesitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led all 20 laps that were completed from the pole and will lead the field back to green when the 21st lap picks up on President’s Day.
Prior to the rain, Stenhouse was leading a largely single-file train around the 2.5-mile superspeedway, with most drivers not wanting to step out of line or make many moves knowing that weather was imminent.
Behind the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE sat five Ford Mustangs, with Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski holding down positions two through six, respectively. They’ll line up in that order when the race goes back to green.
William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Timmy Hill – who raced from 32nd to 10th during the opening stint – completed the top 10 at the time of Sunday’s postponement.
Parking lots at Daytona will open at 11 a.m. ET, with grandstand gates opening at 1 p.m.
The National Weather Service forecast for Monday calls for temperatures in the low 70s, with just a 17 percent chance of rain in the late afternoon.
Prior to Sunday, the most recent and only prior Daytona 500 to be postponed by inclement weather was the 2012 edition won by Matt Kenseth, which was pushed to Monday night due to rain and ultimately finished in the early hours of Tuesday morning.