Welcome back to Daytona International Speedway, which is still drying out after a long Saturday of showers and thunderstorms that postponed the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
NASCAR plans to take a race-day mulligan this morning, beginning at 10 a.m.
Firecracker 250, anyone?
Hang with me.
We’ve gotten pretty good at reading the weatherman’s tea leaves around here, and right now we’re looking good (or at least “OK”) until about noon.
Come back here for continued updates as the command to fire engines draws closer.
Place your bets:NASCAR betting odds for Darlington: Chase Elliott no; Kevin Harvick yes as playoffs open
Saturday’s recap:What happened in the build-up to the rainout of the Coke Zero Sugar 400?
Xfinity recap:NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 wrecks its way to early-morning finish
On the call:Jeff Burton high and dry in NBC booth, but still feels the nerves
4:20 p.m.: CHECKERS! Austin Dillon wins, makes the playoffs; Truex eliminated
Austin Dillon shoved Austin Cindric out of the lead with a few laps remaining and led the rest of the way, to capture the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and earn a berth in the Cup Series playoff, which begins next week.
Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth, Ryan Blaney finished 15th, but Blaney’s points cushion held up and he gets the 16th playoff spot, the only one available to a non-winner from 2022.
Don’t bet against him eventually winning and becoming a playoff factor, by the way.
So long from Daytona, until next time.
4:05 p.m.: Green, green, green!
Back to racing with 16 laps to go.
We were told 4:10, but it looks like they might go green a bit sooner. What’s left of the field just rolled off the grid and are following the pace car. Should go green soon.
Can we stay green? Hmmmm
The red flag, by the way, lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
A couple of hours ago, nobody saw this coming, but it’s true. Word is, drivers are heading back to their cars in the next 20 minutes or so.
The skies have cleared, the jet dryers have been jet-dryin’, and those final 21 laps look like they’re gonna be a “go” very soon.
As of now, 4:10 is looking like the time they’ll fire the engines. Stay tuned.
Nothing to report yet at Daytona, where the red flag is still officially flying.
An hour ago, many of us assumed NASCAR was simply waiting until closer to 2 p.m. to call it, because their sports-car series, IMSA, had a televised 2 p.m. race starting at Virginia International Raceway.
Drama from the rain delay would create a nice runway to the IMSA event. But 2 p.m. came and went. Oh well.
Ryan Blaney will wait all day, of course. And night, if necessary. He’s on the playoff outside looking in as it stands now.
Here’s another shot of the Big One that immediately preceded rain and the red flag.
Look at Austin Dillon and imagine trying to snake through that mess.
The cars are parked and covered. The jet dryers are slowly circling the track.
The drivers are tucked away in the “green room,” waiting on what seems like the inevitable.
But you never know.
Best case scenario, it stops, the rain clouds disappear, and they take an hour or so to dry the track and resume.
The cars have pulled down the pit lane as heavy rain settles in over the Speedway.
Austin Dillon, who skated through the carnage of the most recent mammoth wreck, found himself in the lead and doesn’t care how he got there.
He’d suddenly be a playoff driver if the rain stays and the race is ended early.
Now, 21 laps remain, but it doesn’t look good on the radar. Except for Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team.
A massive crash through Turns 1 and 2 seemingly took out the entire front half of the field, except for Austin Dillon, who skated through alone.
And now the rains have come, 42 laps shy of the 160 prescribed for the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Dillon might’ve just made the playoffs, depending on the rain’s persistence.
Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon and Austin Dillon were among the drivers caught up in a hard crash in front of the main grandstands.
Joey Logano holds the lead and now the teams have one eye on their fuel gauge and another on the weather radar.
This is the type of day when a big longshot can find himself in the lead at the right time and walk away with the trophy after rain shortens the race.
Speaking of which, Justin Haley now leads after Logano pits.
Lots of wrecking immediately behind leader Joey Logano.
Among those involved, heavily, was Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 19 Toyota.
Truex is a lock for the playoffs UNLESS a 2022 non-winner wins this race. He limped his car to the pits and will hope to bandage it and stay
Stage 2 has ended and we’re through 95 laps of the 160-lap Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Kyle Busch led to the stripe, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. Of the 2022 non-winners looking to crash the playoffs, Todd Gilliland was leading the way, in sixth place overall.
We’ve sped past the halfway mark, which was Lap 80 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
Regardless of whether or not the weather holds out through the Lap 160 finish, it’s an official race.
Nearing the end of Stage 2, with Tyler Reddick looking strong while mixing it up with a bunch of the usual favorites.
It wasn’t a Big One, but it might have huge playoff implications. Ryan Blaney, holding on to a playoff spot based on his points standing, was one of a few drivers wrecked in a Lap 31 incident.
Erik Jones had been trading the lead with Chase Elliott for a few laps but lost speed in Turn 2, creating a chain reaction behind him that damaged the cars of Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell.
Blaney got back on track but was a couple of laps down. If he ends the day behind Martin Truex Jr. on points, he needs a 2022 repeat winner or else he’s out of the playoffs.
Shortly after going back to green, the first stage ended after Lap 35 with Joey Logano up front, followed by Elliott, Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch and Truex.
Kyle Larson is out of the Coke Zero 400
Kyle Larson’s Sunday at Daytona hopes were dashed because of engine problems.
They’re up to speed and turning official laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Chase Elliott leads the field off the green.
More details as warranted.
Engines have cranked, pre-race pace laps under way.
Most folks are taking their time getting back to their grandstand seats, and that always sets up on odd situation.
Driver introductions started at 9:20 and played out as if there’s a full house: Loud and proud, lots of pomp and circumstance.
When the crowd is sparse, it takes on the feel of a rehearsal.
When the engines crank and the green falls, any feel of “rehearsal” will be through the safety net and out the driver’s-side window.
NASCAR officials last night sent out an email reminder that ticketholders to races have the advantage of the “Weather Protection Plan” for regular grandstand tickets.
In the event of a rescheduled race, like Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, that was rain postponed even before the green flag dropped, fans may exchange regular grandstand tickets that were not used on the new data for a future NASCAR race, according to the release by Russel Branham of NASCAR communications. More information is available at Daytona International Speedway’s website.
8:50 a.m. | If rain falls again, when would Coke Zero Sugar 400 become an official race?
With the Coke Zero Sugar 400 scheduled to crank to life at 10 a.m., a little math tells us we should easily blow past the halfway mark — thereby making it an official race — before any potential rain arrives, assuming the forecast holds.
This race generally lasts about three hours, give or take, depending on the number of cautions. So, careful out there, fellas, there’s an angry cloud from the west eyeballing Daytona Beach.
If we get two full hours before potential trouble arrives, we’re gonna have us an official playoff field determined today, one way or another.
Which takes us back to that earlier reference to the Firecracker 250, which the name of Daytona’s summertime race from the 1959 inaugural until 1963, when it was lengthened to 400 miles.
Also, back then, the race began late morning, so our whole “Back to the Future” vibe is strong.