DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Unfortunately, mother nature isn’t playing nicely this weekend in Daytona. For the third time in as many days, on track activity was hampered by either rain, lightning or even at times, both.
Rain began falling on the Daytona International Speedway shortly before 6 p.m. ET on Saturday evening and never really let up for true track drying efforts to take place. So, around 8:15 p.m. ET, NASCAR decided to call it a night early and moved the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.
It will mark the first time since 2014 that the race was delayed to the next day as even that event was rain shortened to 112 Laps in a race that was won by Aric Almirola in his famed No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. That year saw the race stopped twice on Sunday due to rain in itself, the final time was the last.
But, 2014 wasn’t the last time that the ‘400 was delayed due to weather. In fact, the race a year later was delayed til 11:40 p.m. ET and didn’t wrap up until a 2:40 a.m. ET checkered flag.
The 2010 race started 90 minutes later than the scheduled time and didn’t end until after midnight. The 2004 and 2005 races were also delayed to 9:45 p.m. ET and 10:38 p.m. ET respectively.
Since the race was moved to primetime beginning in 1998, the race was delayed at the start six times. It was only delayed a couple of times when it was run as a daytime event prior to 1998.
See, everyone says that when you mess with tradition at Daytona, bad things happens. The reason it used to be run at 10 or 11 a.m. ET was because of trying to get the race in before the daily chances of thunderstorms ramp up. Plus, it allowed the race to be run in cooler temperatures in the morning and get everyone back to the beach or hotel pool by mid afternoon.
But, when you move it to a night race, you take the risk of getting rained out.
On Thursday, it was lightning that ended the first Cup Series practice session early and canceled final XFINITY Series practice. On Friday night, lightning canceled Coke Zero Sugar 400 qualifying while rain delayed the Circle K Firecracker 250 by 3+ hours.
Then on Saturday, rain once again halted action early.
While some, including me, initially thought why 1 p.m. ET? I mean, do you really want to race in the heat of the day, especially when more rain is forecasted?
But, look at what NBC Sports has to offer. The Tour De France is on NBCSN from 8 to 11:30 a.m. ET. Then, you have the Women’s World Cup at 11 a.m. ET.
NBC probably didn’t want to go against the World Cup. NBCSN was taken. The race may have been offered on CNBC but when NBC was offered at 1 p.m. ET, isn’t it better to try at 1 instead of be on a third option earlier?