Daytona 500 postponed until Monday after second day of rain

The empty grandstand at Daytona International Speedway.
The grandstand at Daytona International Speedway after the NASCAR Daytona 500 was postponed from Sunday to Monday because of rain.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

NASCAR just can’t catch a break. For the second straight time it had to move its marquee event of the weekend to another day. On Sunday, the Daytona 500 was postponed until Monday afternoon because of two days of persistent rain.

The flag is scheduled to drop around 1 p.m. PST in the second race of the day. An Xfinity Series race originally scheduled for Saturday was moved to Monday at 8 a.m.

Two weeks ago, NASCAR moved the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum from Sunday to Saturday night on just a few hours’ notice. There was no way the race could have happened Sunday because of the heavy rains that pelted California and continue to affect the area. The crowd on Saturday was minuscule despite free admission, likely dooming the Clash from returning for a fourth year.


No doubt, the crowd at Daytona on Monday will be smaller but still significant since many fans, who travel to the race in RVs, have to head home and can’t stay an extra day.

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Even though the rain at Daytona was not heavy at times, there is no way cars at the 2.5-mile superspeedway can run because there is no tread on the tires, making racing a severe safety risk. In addition, drying such a massive piece of asphalt takes at least 90 minutes, and likely more than two hours because of the cloud cover. And if it starts to rain again, the process has to start over.

This is the third time that the Daytona 500 has been moved to a Monday. In 2020, the race was stopped on lap 20 and resumed the next day. The race will be remembered for the horrific crash of Ryan Newman, who tumbled through the air down the track on the last lap. He walked out of a hospital two days later.

In 2012, the race was scheduled for Sunday, moved to Monday because of rain and then had more delays, including a two-hour one when Juan Pablo Montoya lost control during a caution and hit a jet dryer, causing a fuel leak that erupted in fire.

Drivers are used to rain delays, or in this case a postponement.

“It doesn’t do anything to my psyche,” said Chase Elliott, who has been voted the most popular driver in NASCAR for six straight years. “I don’t know what it does to others than having to be here another day or two.

“I think the biggest thing it changes is for the spectators based on who wants to come and whether or not they want to sit in the rain. For me, I don’t think it changes a whole lot. I’m here and we’re going to get this thing done whenever it is.”


When the race starts on Monday, Joey Logano will be on the pole with Michael McDowell on his outside. Logano, 33, is a two-time Cup Series winner (2018, 2022). When he won the 2015 Daytona 500, he was the second-youngest winner of the race.

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This year is the first time in 12 years that a Ford rather than a Chevrolet won the pole at Daytona.

“Yeah, it’s about time, huh?” Logano said after winning the first starting spot. “It’s a really a special, really special pole. This is something as a team [that] is talked about more than any other racetrack we go to.

“A lot of it is because you eliminate the variable of the driver. I know I’m the one talking but I shouldn’t be talking because those guys are the ones that really gave me the race car I needed to go fast. They massage it, work on it. … I was the lucky jockey that was behind the wheel that got to drive that one [Wednesday].”

Qualifying at Daytona is unlike any other track. The first two spots are determined by single-car timed qualifying runs. The rest of the field is determined by two 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night.

It’s not like winning a pole is unique for Logano. It was the 29th of his career.

While Logano had success early, McDowell waited a long time. The 39-year-old did not win his first Cup race until three years ago when he won, you guessed it, the Daytona 500.


“In NASCAR, it’s ability, opportunity and experience,” McDowell said. “It’s a combination of race team and resources. But everything is getting better, for sure. The road was hard and long when I came into this sport.”

McDowell, the married father of five, tries not to bring his family to the races unless he thinks he’s got a legitimate shot of winning. The family is at Daytona.

The weather on Monday afternoon should be clear, sunny and 59 degrees with a 4% chance of rain. Everything should go smoothly until, of course, the last 10 laps, which at Daytona is bound to bring at least three caution flags and a race that goes into overtime. It’s more predictable than the weather.