(Mother Nature had other plans on Sunday and the Daytona 500 was postponed until Monday afternoon - Getty)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time in its 54 year history the Daytona 500 has been rained out.
Showers hit the track just before the schedule 1 p.m. ET start of Sunday's race and despite several attempts by NASCAR to dry the track the rain returned at 5 p.m. and NASCAR officially pulled the plug.
The race will now be run at 12 Noon ET on Monday. However, the weather forecast for Monday is not very promising, with a 70 percent chance of rain predicted.
If rain interferes again on Monday, NASCAR would most likely try to run the race early on Tuesday morning.
The schedule will be a difficult one for teams now with the postponement as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend.
But other than being somewhat bored waiting around all day, most drivers don't think the delay will be much of an impact once the race begins.
“I don’t know. I just tweeted that I guess I’m gonna have to win the first Monday Daytona 500," said outside front row sitter Greg Biffle. "As you can tell, I’m still in my uniform because I was optimistic that this weather was gonna get out of here and we were gonna get this thing going, but I’ll just have to save my energy for tomorrow."
Despite the rain washing off all of the rubber laid down on track from the days of racing leading up to Sunday, there doesn't seem to be any concern in the garage area.
NASCAR and Daytona officials did what they could to keep the race on schedule but simply could no lomgr fight Mother Nature.
"We hate it for our fans," said Daytona president Joie Chitwood III. "It's hard to believe we've been so fortunate over the years to not have this race ever postponed by rain and our luck just ran out today. "NASCAR did as much as they could and we had extra jet dryers from other tracks around the country here this weekend to help us with a situation like this one but at the end of the day there was just too much weather ahead of us to get the race in today."
Although the Tuesday back-up plan exists, Chitwood is focused on trying to get the race in on Monday.
"It's tough to even talk Tuesday until we get into tomorrow," he said. "I think the plan with a noon start, I think there is inclement weather in the a.m., but by noon, it looks like the weather is better. We'll play it out best we can.
No different than what we did today. We'll wait till the last possible minute that we would not run the race. We want to exhaust every opportunity of getting the track dry and running the race. I would anticipate 5:00, 6:00, if there was rain on the track, you will see us play out some decisions. I don't even want to talk about Tuesday right now."
Chitwood understands the Monday date means some fans will not be able to return to the track with work or other responsibilities. Although he's not sure just how many will come back, he assured those that do the track will be ready to accomodate.
"That's a great question," he said. "We don't really know. For us, we have to staff and be prepared that we're going to have a lot of folks show up. The last thing I would want to do is be understaffed, have a lot of folks show up and we can't take care of them properly. We have to be prepared most of them are going to show up.
"Whether it's the buses that we use to get people here from lot 7 and lot 10, ushers, gates, ticket takers. The last half hour I was meeting with my team to make sure what areas we're covered, and what support we might need to so that we're fully staffed to handle that crowd. That's the key. It's not how many show back up, it's that we can handle those that do and they have a good experience."Everyone is hopeful the weather cooperates as soon as possible.
"I will stay here all week to have a shot at taking that trophy home,” Jimmie Johnson said. “We will just play it by ear. One thing about this track that is nice is even if it does rain, a green race track isn’t a problem here.
“We don’t have a lot to worry about from a handling perspective or a safety perspective, wearing a right front out or anything like that.”