News & Media

Thunderstorm delays race start at Richmond

September 08, 2012, Joe Menzer,

RICHMOND, Va. -- Heavy rain and high winds accompanying a fierce thunderstorm ripped through Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, delaying the start of the Federated Auto Parts 400.

The green flag was scheduled to drop at 7:43 p.m. ET. Officials from NASCAR announced that the start would be delayed about 7:10 p.m. ET, adding that they were hoping the storm would pass and jet dryers could get on the track no later than 8:30 p.m. for a start no later than 10 p.m.

* CNN Weather: Richmond forecast

Spokesman Kerry Tharp confirmed that it takes 75 to 90 minutes to dry the three-quarters-mile track.

This marks the fifth time in 26 races this season rain has either delayed or shortened a Sprint Cup event.

In February, the Daytona 500 was pushed back a day for the first time in the event's history, and eventually run on a Monday night because of persistent rain. In March, the race at Auto Club Speedway was shortened to 129 laps after rain began to fall just after the event's halfway point. Heavy rain also delayed the start of the race at Talladega Superspeedway in May.

And in August, driver Jeff Gordon won the rain-shortened Cup race at Pocono Raceway, on a day when violent thunderstorms crashed through the area, with lightning strikes causing one death and nine injuries to fans.

Officials at RIR and NASCAR were quick to encourage fans to seek shelter early Saturday night, while the storm was still miles away.

Tharp added that if the race could not be run Saturday night, it would be rescheduled for 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

Update: Jet dryers took to the track at roughly 7:55 p.m. ET. Tharp said driver introductions have been re-set for 8:45 p.m. ET with a new start time slated for 9:15 p.m.