News & Media

Atlanta race postponed; rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Tuesday

September 05, 2011, Mark Aumann,

Race postponed by rain; with more expected, rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Tues.

HAMPTON, Ga. -- The fans were ready. The teams were ready. NASCAR was ready. But the weather wouldn't cooperate Sunday, forcing the postponement of the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Due to public safety concerns -- Monday's forecast calls for possible tornadoes and strong winds in addition to heavy rain -- NASCAR president Mike Helton said the race has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, and will be broadcast live on ESPN. The garage will open two hours earlier for crews.

"Hopefully, the weather will be OK Tuesday and we'll just be a couple of days behind [heading to Richmond]."


* Video: Several hours of waiting for naught

Helton said rain that hit just as the track was nearly dry meant it "will take three to three and a half hours to dry, which means it will be 12:30 a.m. ET before we start."

"Starting sometime later [Sunday night], it's about 100 percent chance in this area [there will] more than likely be 3, 4, 5 inches of rain, high wind and all the things that create dangerous situations with weather," Helton said. "We'll have respect for that and reschedule this race to start at 11 Tuesday morning."

Compounding the issue is the fact that teams need time to prepare for Saturday night's race at Richmond, the final race before the Chase field is set. Helton said that factored into the sanctioning body's decision.

"Hopefully, the weather will be OK Tuesday and we'll just be a couple of days behind [heading to Richmond]," Helton said. "But we'll catch up pretty quick, I hope."

Helton said it will be up to series director John Darby and director of competition Robin Pemberton as to what adjustments will be allowed to be made on the cars, which haven't been on the track since Saturday afternoon.

"The fact that they've sat for a good period of time, not just overnight, we'll have to take into consideration climate changes, including daylight to dark -- and what weather comes through here -- before we can get them out of the garage and decide what might be done," Helton said.

The rain started as a light sprinkle early in the afternoon, with one heavy band of showers hitting the track around 5 p.m. ET. It gradually began to ease, and pre-race ceremonies were held. However, the cars remained holed up in the garages and drivers in their motorhomes.

Six jet dryers and several rescue vehicles took to the track just a few minutes before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. ET start time, and with their efforts over the next 90 minutes, had dried the asphalt enough that the call was made to roll the cars out to pit road at 9:45 p.m. ET. However, those efforts ultimately were in vain when a heavy shower doused the 1.54-mile speedway around 9:15 p.m. ET.

With a forecast for heavy, steady rain throughout the rest of the evening, NASCAR officials were forced to abandon the effort. Unfortunately, Monday's forecast isn't much better: a 100 percent change of morning showers and heavy afternoon thunderstorms, with localized flooding.

"This is one of those deals nobody wins from," Helton said. "It's unfortunate it happens from time to time."


2.C. Bowyer 185.922 29.819
3.Ky. Busch 185.841 29.832
4.B. Vickers 185.772 29.843
5.J. Gordon 185.735 29.849

* CNN: Weather forecast for Hampton, Ga.

Since the track was opened in 1960, Atlanta Motor Speedway has seen its share of weather delays and postponements. The most recent Cup race postponement was in 2006, when rain came just before the race was scheduled to start. Despite an unfavorable forecast the following day, the race went the entire 500-mile distance, with Kasey Kahne beating Mark Martin by nearly 2 seconds.

Races in 1991, 1998, 2000 and 2003 also were postponed one day because of precipitation. And a freak March blizzard created a six-day delay in the 1993 Motorcraft Quality Auto Parts 500, which remains the only AMS Cup race run on a Saturday. It was also Morgan Shepherd's last Cup victory.

Five other races were shortened because of rain, the most recent coming in the 2002 NAPA 500, stopped after 248 laps with Kurt Busch in the lead. Persistent wet weather caused havoc the entire weekend, as qualifying also was rained out.

Darrell Waltrip is the only driver to win two rain-shortened Atlanta races, in 1977 and 1982. And Fred Lorenzen needed to complete just 219 laps to win the 1962 Atlanta 500.

Snow also caused trouble in March 2008, when the first practice session was canceled because flurries were affecting the ability of spotters to see the cars on the backstretch.

A tornado hit AMS in July 2005, destroying one building and heavily damaging sections of the backstretch grandstands. Those stands, which were on the track's original frontstretch, eventually were removed.