Daytona 500 rained out

The crew of David Ragan's number 34 Ford push his car into the garages after the Daytona 500 was...

The crew of David Ragan's number 34 Ford push his car into the garages after the Daytona 500 was rained out at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Feb. 26, 2012. (MICHAEL BROWN/Reuters)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 PM ET

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. - For the first time in its 54-year history the Daytona 500 has been postponed.

NASCAR announced late Sunday that the race will be put off until Monday, and even that is iffy as the weather forecast for the central Florida area is pessimistic at best.

A NASCAR official said the race will now be run starting at noon Eastern Time.

It is expected that it will be aired on TSN or TSN 2.

Rain started early Sunday and let up for only brief periods, soaking the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

And those who think all it would take is putting rain tires on the 3,400-pound, 900-horsepower stock cars to make them race in the wet are delusional.

Even Formula One won’t race when there is standing water on the track — as there was for a time last season in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix when that race was red flagged for several hours so the track could dry.

For some of the Sprint Cup drivers, the rain-out was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, said that while it “sucks” for the 120,000 fans at DIS who sat through several downpours hoping the race would eventually get under way, the drivers were pretty much insulated, relaxing in their $1-million motor homes.

“I know it sucks for the people sitting out there because they’ve got to sit in the rain. But for us, we go in here (motor home), we eat a lot of food and we have a good time,” he said.

Allmendinger said he was concerned for team members who must prepare on a now shortened week for next Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

“More than anything, I think it’s going to be pain in the butt for the guys driving the haulers that have to get there, unload it, and load the other car and leave,” he said. “So it’ll be a little bit tough for those guys but for me, no big deal.”

But for five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, the waiting game was more than an annoyance. He said that if it takes all week, he wants to get the race in.

“I will stay here all week to have a shot at taking that trophy home,” Johnson said. “We will just play it by ear ... We’ll just kind of play the rain game.”

FINISH LINES

On the IZOD IndyCar front the news for teams with Lotus engines testing across the Florida panhandle at Sebring last week was not good. Many drivers were complaining about the lack of speed. There were reports that some Lotus teams may not even be ready for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener. … Speaking of IndyCar, I hear that four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais is not a happy camper having to give up valuable track testing time to new teammate Katherine Legge. The problem is that Dale Coyne is paying Bourdais because he is the better driver by a country mile but that Legge gets more track time because she brings money to buy her ride. In IndyCar cash trumps talent every time ... The GC International NASCAR Nationwide series team has decided to stay with veteran David Ragan in the No. 27 Ford Mustang at Las Vegas for the Sam’s Town 300. Canada’s Andrew Ranger had been scheduled for that race but now he will have to wait for the Road America 200 in Wisconsin in June for his turn behind the wheel ... Early indications are that former world champion Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve will be back in the No. 22 Penske Racing Nationwide Dodge this season at Road America and Montreal.

VINNY THE RACER?

There is a rumour that was making the rounds this week at Daytona International Speedway that Tampa Bay Lightning centre Vincent Lecavalier is considering NASCAR racing as a future option.

On Sunday who should been seen wandering round the big track but Lecavalier and Lightning teammate Marc Andre Bergeron.

Although he admits to being an avid racing fan — his is pals with both former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Patrick Carpentier and current IZOD IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani — Lecavalier begged off an interview about the subject when approached by the Toronto Sun.

“I just don’t want to do any interviews,” he said.

That could be because Lecavalier is currently injured — he was wearing a brace on his right hand and wrist — and his team is struggling on the ice without him.

He still has seven years left on an $85-million contract he signed in 2008 so the Lightning might have some issues with their star in such a dangerous sport during the off-season.

The rumour mill, by the way, has Lecavalier considering entering at least one NASCAR Canadian Tire series race this summer either at the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres or at the NAPA 100 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.


Videos

Photos