February 27, 2012  |   By Tom Jensen - SPEED

Rain May Clear Out Late At Daytona

Courtesy of Speed.com

The weather outlook at Daytona International Speedway remained grim on Monday morning, although it looks better late in the day.

According to weather.com, the forecast at Daytona today is a 65 percent to 100 percent chance of rain up until 3 p.m. ET. At 3 p.m., the chance of rain drops to 30 percent and then down to 20 percent at 6 p.m.

Given that it takes a minimum of two hours to dry the 2.5-mile track, it would seem unlikely that the Daytona 500 could begin before 5 p.m. at the earliest.

Track President Joie Chitwood III said late Sunday that the track would do everything it could to get the race in today instead of Tuesday.

“We'll wait till the last possible minute that we would not run the race,” Chitwood said. “We want to exhaust every opportunity of getting the track dry and running the race. I would anticipate 5:00, 6:00, if there was rain on the track, you will see us play out some decisions. I don't even want to talk about Tuesday right now.”

Chitwood did not specify how late the track would be willing to start the race.

“The Daytona 500 typically averages about 3 hours and 45 minutes,” he said. “So if you started the race at 10 p.m., that would put you at about a 1:45 a.m. finish. Then you have to think about the couple hours it would take to send all our customers home. I'm not really sure that's the environment we want to do that. I can't tell you the exact latest start time that we would do it. I have a feeling 10 p.m. is probably a little bit too late based on the logistical needs of our customers.”

For the teams, racing Tuesday would be a logistical challenge, since they have to be in Phoenix on Friday.

“I was just looking at the schedule earlier today and we aren’t on track until midday Friday,” said Daytona 500 pole-sitter Carl Edwards. “If we were to put this out until Tuesday then it would be real tough but I am sure it will be fine. We have guys that can do it. I know our Phoenix stuff is ready to go and I think there might be an issue with some of the engines, especially with our FR9’s. You would have to ask Jack (Roush) but I know it was tough for Doug Yates and those guys to get the amount of engines ready for these first two races, so I am sure they will be running engines back and forth and turning things over.”

Stay tuned to SPEED.com throughout the day for updates on the situation from Daytona.