Sprint Cup race postponed a day

As if to tease the thousands of fans who had waited all day, the sun finally made an appearance about 4 on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.

But by then, it was too late to salvage the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

About 4:15, with the sun shining brightly, the announcement came that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event was postponed until today. ESPN's coverage will begin at 9 a.m. PDT.

A hard downpour that began early in the morning continued into the afternoon.

The rain slowed down and eventually stopped as Pocono crews tried to dry the track, but one last burst of rain that arrived just before 4 p.m. prompted the decision.

"That last little band that lasted only 10 minutes really cost us time-wise," said Kerry Tharp, NASCAR'S manager of public relations. "Our biggest challenge today was time. This is almost a four-hour race to complete. The average time here is three hours and 45 minutes. And it gets dark at about 8:15. So you do the math. We really needed to start this race around 4:30 to have the time needed to get the full race in before darkness."

Trying to get in enough laps to make it official wasn't an option.

"Our philosophy is when we start a race, we're going to run the entire event," Tharp said. "That's only fair for the fans and competitors."

Even with the possibility of more rain Sunday night, Tharp was confident that the race would go on today.

Like the fans, the drivers and crews weren't happy having to wait all day and then be told they had to come back.

The postponement scuttled the plans of a large contingent of NASCAR drivers who were set to visit President Obama at the White House today before heading to Watkins Glen, N.Y., for the next race.

The visit will be rescheduled.




Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500

When: Today, 9 a.m. PDT. (ESPN, ESPND)

Where: Pocono Raceway (tri-oval, 2.5 miles),

Long Pond, Pa.

Distance: 500 miles,

200 laps.

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