Coca-Cola 600 to start at noon Monday
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR's longest race of the season spilled into a second day Sunday night when the Coca-Cola 600 was postponed by rain for the first time in 50 years.
Light rain had delayed the scheduled 6:03 p.m. start at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but the track appeared dry and NASCAR called the cars out to pit road moments before a heavy shower soaked the surface again. The heavy rain lasted less than 15 minutes, but a persistent drizzle made it impossible to dry the track.
The race will run on Monday at noon ET on FOX. It's the first time it will be held on Memorial Day.
"We have a ton of family members and friends in town this weekend, and of course the big plan was for us all to be here tonight and playing around by the lake tomorrow," said Kurt Busch, who will start 17th.
"You just gotta feel for the fans, though. I'm sure a lot of them were counting on tomorrow for a travel day. The weather has put a kink in a lot of plans."
The only other time the Coca-Cola 600 was postponed was the 1960 inaugural race, when it was pushed from its Memorial Day weekend date to June 19 because three consecutive March snowstorms slowed construction on the speedway.
The weather has been good to NASCAR since the season-opening Daytona 500 was shortened 48 laps because of rain. Since then, every Sprint Cup Series event has been rain-free.
The Truck Series had two postponements this season -- at Martinsville and Kansas, where the races were held on days other than their scheduled start.
Elton Sawyer, competition director for Red Bull Racing, said the holdover isn't a huge financial burden to race teams because the majority are based in the area and don't have lodging costs. But teams will have to adjust to different track conditions: Sunday night's race begins in daylight and ends in the dark, but Monday's event will now be run during the hottest part of the day.
"Obviously we'll be dealing with the heat, so you won't have as much grip," Sawyer said. "The characteristics of the handling is definitely going to be different. It's the same for everybody, but it will be different."
Defending race winner Kasey Kahne said it will take teams time to adjust.
"I think it changes the way all of the drivers think," Kahne said. "Switching from a night race to a day race will be the biggest challenge. We all set our cars up for a night race, so it will definitely be a different Coke 600 than we've seen in the past."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press