Bristol reveals plan in event of postponement
March 15, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
MORE: Food City 500 lineup
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Although the weather forecast for Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway isn't promising, track officials said Saturday that they "fully intend" to get the series' fourth race of the year completed as scheduled.
According to the National Weather Service, Sunday's forecast calls for rain, mainly after 8 a.m., with a high temperature of 48 degrees. The chance of rain is listed as 100 percent.
The time of the green flag was moved up to 1:01 p.m. ET. That pushes driver intros up to 12:08 p.m. ET, with the command to start engines now scheduled for 12:55 p.m. ET.
"By now, nearly everyone has seen Sunday's weather forecast and expressed questions regarding plans," Bristol General Manager Jerry Caldwell said in a statement issued Saturday.
"NASCAR has a nearly 70-year history of working with tracks to get races in on the scheduled date. In Bristol Motor Speedway, we have a track that dries in less than an hour, equipment here to do it and lights that allow us to go well into the evening. We are hopeful and fully intend to run the Food City 500 (Sunday)."
A contingency plan is in place.
Caldwell said that if weather does not permit the race to be run, it would be rescheduled for Monday, beginning at noon.
"But that is a backup plan we hope to not need," he said.
Monday's weather forecast calls for periods of drizzle with a 50 percent chance of rain and a high temperature near 47.
Bristol's track surface can be dried quickly because of its concrete racing surface and at 0.533 miles, it's the second-smallest track on the circuit.
Rain impacted the season-opening Daytona 500 in February, halting the race after 38 laps of the 200-lap event. The race was completed that night.
The last race at BMS shortened by rain was the 1996 Food City 500, won by Jeff Gordon. That event was stopped after 342 of the scheduled 500 laps had been completed. Only two of the 106 premier-series races at Bristol have been shortened due to rain.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin is scheduled to start on the pole, alongside Team Penske driver and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski.
Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 14th.