DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The day race at Daytona International Speedway ended up at night.
And now the night race will go off during the day.
Steady rain forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night. It’s the second race at Daytona this year delayed by rain. The season-opening Daytona 500 was stopped for more than six hours because of rain and ended under the lights.
“We seem to have a little bad luck with the weather,” said Joie Chitwood III, the track president. “We had it in February and we have it right now.”
The Coke Zero 400 will start at 10 a.m. CDT Sunday, about 14 hours after officials postponed the event. The forecast calls for more rain Sunday, but Chitwood said scheduling an early start gives NASCAR a “bigger window of time to get it in.”
The race was supposed to start at 6:57 p.m. Saturday, but showers soaked the 2 ½-mile superspeedway and forced officials to delay the green flag and eventually postpone the race.
This is the fourth Cup race affected by rain this season and the second to be postponed a day. Bristol also was affected by rain, and Texas was delayed a day.
Despite the latest washout, Chitwood does not want the race moved from its traditional Saturday night spot around the July Fourth holiday. The race has been run in that spot for 27 years, and prior to that, it went on the annual holiday itself.
Chitwood was reminded of what a rain-free event looked like as he watched a replay of last year’s Coke Zero 400 during Saturday’s delay.
“The crowd was fantastic and the weather was good and we gave the fans a heck of a show,” he said. “I think July Fourth weekend is a great time.”
READY TO UNSEAT LITTLE E?: Fans of Josh Wise now have Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 11-year reign as NASCAR’s most popular driver directly in their sights.
Voting opened Saturday for the award, sponsored by Sprint and the National Motorsports Press Association, and there’s no reason to believe Wise’s tech savvy fan base won’t be active participants.
Wise won the Sprint All-Star fan vote in May in an upset over Danica Patrick. His support comes from the Dogecoin community at online site Reddit, which also successfully mounted an online push to sponsor Wise’s car at Talladega using the digital currency.
Voting runs until the day after the Nov. 16 season finale at Homestead, and Wise’s supporters have pledged to unseat Earnhardt.
Wise is in his third full season in the Sprint Cup Series and was ranked 36th in the standings headed into Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and was ranked third going into Daytona, where he was trying to become the sixth driver in history to sweep the season at the famed track.
Voting is limited to one per person per email address per day, and the website requires registration. Fans who share their votes on Facebook or Twitter get their votes doubled. If shared on both, their votes get tripled.
Eligible drivers must have declared for the Sprint Cup championship and entered all points races before Saturday night.
The winner of the award receives a trophy, and a $10,000 donation will be made this year to the winning driver’s charity of choice.
LEAD ANNOUNCER STEPPING DOWN: Barney Hall made Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway his final event as the lead announcer for Motor Racing Network.
Hall has been calling races for more than 50 years, and will transition into a different role with MRN.
NASCAR President Mike Helton announced that Saturday night would be the final race in the booth for the 82-year-old in the pre-race driver meeting. The drivers and crew chiefs gave him a standing ovation after Helton noted his dedication to NASCAR.
Hall, along with Ken Squier, is part of NASCAR’s Squier-Hall Award, which was created in 2012 to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport.
Montoya wins first pole at Pocono Raceway: In Long Pond, Pa., Juan Pablo Montoya had a two-lap average of 223.871 mph Saturday at Pocono Raceway for his first carer IndyCar pole.
Driving for Team Penske in his open-wheel return after seven years in NASCAR, the Colombian knocked off Penske teammate Will Power on the final qualifying run Saturday.
Carlos Munoz joins Montoya and Power on the front row.
Montoya won a Pocono pole in NASCAR in August 2012.
Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe are on the second row.
Alonso questions Ferrari tactics at British GP: In Silverstone, England, two-time champion Fernando Alonso questioned his Ferrari team’s tactics and decision-making strategy Saturday after he was eliminated early from qualifying for the British Grand Prix.
The Spaniard had failed to make the cut to Q2 for the first time since the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix.
“We know there are two Williams and two Ferraris out of Q1, so there’s definitely something wrong compared to the other teams because, when both cars are out in a session like this, it’s because you were in the wrong moment with the wrong tire,” Alonso said.
“That’s something we need to look at. It’s true that it has happened some other times, and we were saved many times by luck. We need to do better next time. I think the bigger teams have longer procedures than smaller teams, so we need to speed up some of the communications and some of the things that we do.”
Alonso agreed it was a difficult call.
“If the rain had come two minutes earlier these people would be in the wall and people would ask ‘Why do you put dry tires while the track is still wet?’
“But I agree that there were some cars on dry tires today a couple of minutes before us doing green sectors and we were in the garage.
“So we need to improve that for next time.”