DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Daytona 500 had to be rescheduled due to rain on Sunday for the first time since 2012, dampening NASCAR's season opener that started with a ballyhooed visit from President Donald Trump.
The race was postponed after two lengthy delays totaling more than three hours. The first delay lasted 50 minutes and came moments after the presidential motorcade completed a ceremonial parade lap around the 2 1/2-mile track.
Trump’s armored limousine nicknamed “The Beast” exited Daytona International Speedway, and the sky opened for a brief shower that forced drivers back to pit road.
The start already had been pushed back 13 minutes to accommodate Trump’s trip. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. eventually led the field to the green flag and was out front for the first 20 laps before heavier rain soaked a racing surface that takes hours to dry.
According to Daytona International Speedway's Twitter account, the race is now rescheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Monday (all times local) due to weather conditions.
According to NASCAR.com, bad weather moved over the field at around 4:36 p.m..
The Associated Press is reporting that this is the second time in 62 years that "The Great American Race" will finish on a Monday.
The delays choked some of the excitement out of an event that was a raucous celebration hours earlier, set off by Trump’s dramatic entrance. Thousands cheered as Air Force One performed a flyover and landed at Daytona International Airport a few hundred yards behind the track. Trump’s motorcade arrived a few minutes later, prompting another loud ovation. Both entrances were broadcast on giant video boards around the superspeedway.
At least a dozen drivers were escorted from the pre-race meeting to a private introduction with Trump. The President served as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 and gave the command for drivers to start their engines. He then got in the limousine and turned a lap.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.