DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — NASCAR's premier event, the season-opening Daytona 500, is being delayed by rain.
Heavy showers drenched the famed speedway Sunday afternoon, sending fans scattering for cover and leaving everyone in wait-and-see mode.
Radar shows little relief in sight, too.
"It's one of those days here in Daytona where it pops up and falls off and pops up and falls off," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "But as the day progresses, we think the chances of the pop-ups diminish quite a bit. Hopefully this will be the last big cell we see and things will start falling apart and we can get the track dry and go on and get finish and run the Daytona 500 today."
NASCAR officials pushed back the start of the race shortly before the green flag was scheduled to drop.
They intend to wait as long as possible in hopes of getting the 500-mile race in Sunday. NASCAR says Fox is committed to broadcast the event, even it means going head to head with the NBA All-Star game and the Oscars.
It doesn't look like the Daytona 500 will begin any time soon, though.
The track takes about two and a half hours to dry, but the process can't be started until it stops raining. No Daytona 500 has ever been postponed.
"We are equipped," Helton said. "The Daytona International Speedway has every drying piece of machinery they got across the country here today, because we know that the fans at home and the fans here in Daytona want to see the race run. We do, too. The sooner, the better."
The forecast calls for intermittent showers most of the afternoon, and even worse weather is on tap for Monday.
"I got a feeling this is going to be a long day," driver David Ragan wrote on his Twitter feed. "I really feel bad for the fans that are soaking wet. I am going to make a grocery store run."
NASCAR went ahead with driver introductions and the national anthem, so once the track is dry, racing can commence.
- Daytona 500