Daytona 500 weather FAQ: How rain could affect the ‘Great American Race’

Daytona 500 weather FAQ: How rain could affect the ‘Great American Race’

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With the threat of rain Saturday and Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, many fans have questions about what will NASCAR do for the 2024 Daytona 500?

FOX Weather predicts a 99 percent chance of rain Saturday and then 74 percent chance of periods of rain Sunday for the Daytona area.

Here are some common questions — and answers — on how that could impact the weekend schedule.

Will NASCAR race in the rain or the damp?

No, not at Daytona. The tires do not have tread (treaded tires would wear too quickly and generate too much heat) for the 2.5-mile track. NASCAR will put the race under caution for any amount of rain at Daytona. It also will go into a 30-minute hold after a lightning strike within an 8-mile radius.

How long does it take the track to dry?

It can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 150 minutes to dry depending on the amount of rain. NASCAR has 15 of its “air titans” trucks — trucks that burst high-pressure air onto the racing surface to clear it of standing water. It has 14 jet driers and blowers to then finish the drying process.

When is the race official?

The race is official if it is stopped for rain and cannot be resumed if it has reached the halfway point or the end of Stage 2, whichever is earlier. For the ARCA race Saturday afternoon, that is Lap 40 (of the 80 scheduled laps), for the Xfinity race Saturday night, that is Lap 60 (of 120) and for the Daytona 500, that is Lap 100 (of 200). 

NASCAR moved the Clash a day early, could NASCAR do something as drastic as that?

Highly, highly unlikely. The Clash was a unique situation with a temporary track and a potential situation where EMS personnel were needed for the state of emergency that was declared (at the time likely to be declared) for the area. NASCAR’s m.o. has been to postpone to a later date, not move earlier. 

Clash at the Coliseum recap: Moving race to Saturday was the right decision.

Would NASCAR start a race early?

NASCAR’s unwritten policy that it has followed from 2017-2023 is that it is willing to move the race up an hour earlier with 24-hour notice so those who have tickets can be informed about the change. 

How late would NASCAR race?

NASCAR typically does not like to race much beyond 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT unless the forecast and other factors create the urgency to get the race in that night.

How long will NASCAR delay a race before making the decision to postpone?

It depends on the forecast for the rest of the day (and sometimes the next day) and how long the teams and officials have been there that day. NASCAR has made the decision early in the day if it appears that no racing will get in. It is NASCAR’s unwritten policy not to start a race that it doesn’t believe it can get to the finish at a reasonable time. Once it starts a race, getting to the halfway point is considered. 

When will the race be rescheduled?

That also depends on the forecast as well as the broadcast partner’s programming windows. 

What makes Daytona 500 weekend unique?

When a race gets postponed Saturday, NASCAR often tries to reschedule it before or after the Cup race on Sunday. But because of all the pageantry and spectacle of the Daytona 500, it is highly, highly unlikely that any race other than the Daytona 500 is run Sunday. Twenty years ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 and then the next day won the rescheduled Xfinity race. 

If the Daytona 500 is rained out, would it be moved to Monday night so more people can watch?

Again, that depends on the forecast and broadcast partner. Monday is a holiday (President’s Day) so whether that also impacts timing remains to be determined. 

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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