Rain postpones the Coke Zero 400
July 05, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was postponed by rain. The race is rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday on TNT.
NASCAR officials made the decision shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday.
"We had a tough day with rain most of the day and from a radar perspective, it was popping up around us. We (didn't think) it was going to get this bad, this long," said Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. "We worked with NASCAR as much as we could in terms of the timing. You reach a point right now where as it continues to rain, if we use an hour and 45 minutes to dry this track, which is a really short amount of time using Air Titan and the jets, typically we'd be well over two hours to dry the track. You start thinking about an 11 p.m. start which means you finish the event anywhere from 2 a.m. to a little bit later. You think about public safety, getting people home, all those things. …
"With the rain still around us and coming down, we would not be able to dry the track for a reasonable start time tonight."
Both series were able to complete one of the three scheduled rounds of qualifying, allowing officials to set the starting lineups based off those results.
The start of Friday night's Subway Firecracker 250 Nationwide Series event was delayed by rain, but completed in its entirety with Kasey Kahne earning the win.
Front Row Motorsports driver David Gilliland will start on the Coors Light Pole in Sunday's Sprint Cup race while Reed Sorenson (Tommy Baldwin Racing) will start second. Gilliland's pole-winning run on Friday was his first since the 2007 season and the third of his career.
Series points leader Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports) will roll off the grid ninth while defending race winner and series champion Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick) will start fifth.
This weekend's race is the fourth Sprint Cup event to be impacted by weather this season. The season-opening Daytona 500 was halted for more than six hours after 32 laps had been completed due to rain.
"We seem to have a little bit of bad luck right now. We had it in February; we have it now," Chitwood said. "But when I watched (a replay of) last year's race, I thought 'man, we really killed it last year.' I think this is the right time. Typically with the afternoon thunderstorms, yes we have them but by 6-7 o'clock we're good to go; maybe we're delayed a little bit. It was really unusual for it to still be raining at 9 o'clock.
"If I have any more bad weather weekends, I might have to retire and hand the baton to the next person. But obviously it's tough for our fans. Our fans are the ones who make the commitment, the investment to attend, traveling from far distances. So I really feel bad for delaying the event."
This year's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway began an hour and 44 minutes later than scheduled because of rain and was stopped for 3 hours, 18 minutes when rain returned after 124 of the race's 500 laps had been run.
Before the Coke Zero 400's postponement, the only race to be run the following day due to rain this year was the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Daytona International Speedway rewarded rain poncho-clad fans who remained on-hand with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. Saturday night.
Tickets for Saturday's race will be honored Sunday. Grandstand gates will open at 9 a.m. and parking lots will open at 7 a.m.
The NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.