Rain pushes Daytona Sprint Cup race to Sunday

Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 05: David Gilliland, driver of the #38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, walks on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Persistent rain forced postponement of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

The race has been rescheduled to start Sunday at 11 a.m. ET., broadcast on TNT.

NASCAR officials made the decision shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday.

When the race does begin, pole-sitter David Gilliland in the Love’s Travel Stops Ford will share the front row with Reed Sorenson in the Golden Corral Chevrolet.

Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said even if the rain had stopped shortly after 9 p.m., it would have taken about an hour and 45 minutes to fully dry the track.

“You start thinking about an 11 p.m. start – which means you actually finish the event around 2 a.m. or a little later – and you think about public safety, getting people home, all those things,” Chitwood said. “With the rain still around us, we (realized) we would not be able to dry the track for a reasonable start time tonight.”

Chitwood remains convinced that July 4 weekend is a “great weekend” for the Coke Zero 400, despite the rains which often plague the east coast of Florida this time of year.

“We just seemed to have a little bit of bad luck tonight,” Chitwood said. “But when I watch last year’s race, we really killed it. I think this is the right time for the Coke Zero. Typically, with the afternoon thunderstorms — yes, we have them, but by 6 or 7 o’clock we’re ready to go.”

It’s been a rough weather year at Daytona, which was hit with a 6-hour, 21-minute rain delay during February’s Daytona 500.

“Obviously, it’s tough for our fans who make the commitment and the investment to attend,” Chitwood said.

Daytona International Speedway rewarded rain poncho-clad fans who remained on-hand with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. Saturday night.

Tickets for Saturday’s race will be honored Sunday. Grandstand gates will open at 9 a.m. and parking lots will open at 7 a.m.

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