Duck Commander 500 postponed until this morning

Posted Sunday, Apr. 06, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Too cold and too wet, Texas Motor Speedway postponed the Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup.

The race was rescheduled for 11 a.m. Monday under what looks like a more optimistic forecast for dry weather. The gates will open at 9 a.m. Tickets for Sunday’s race will be honored; tickets will be sold at Gate 4 beginning at 9 a.m.

TMS said fans who cannot use their Sunday ticket on Monday have a year to use it for another race at the track.

The facility worked for hours to dry the racing surface during a long break between showers. But water seeping up from cracks in the asphalt, combined with the cold temperature and lack of sun, proved too much even for NASCAR’s new “Air Titan” driers.

NASCAR announced the postponement shortly after 6 p.m.

“We’ll stay as late as they like,” TMS president Eddie Gossage had said early in the day, hours before the scheduled 2 p.m. start.

“I want to race tonight,” driver Kyle Larson said during an informal visit to the media center.

Gossage said series officials would have likely started the race as late as 8:30. But with new precipitation starting about 5:30 and darkness approaching, there was little chance to dry the track in less than three hours.

“The latest you could possibly start, probably, is 8:30-ish,” Gossage said. “That way, you’d be able to get it in before midnight.”

This is the first race pushed back a day by rain in Sprint Cup this year, although rain has affected almost every race.

Two previous Sprint Cup races at TMS have been pushed to Monday by weather: the April 2002 Samsung/Radio Shack 500 won by Matt Kenseth, and the April 2010 Samsung Mobile 500 won by Denny Hamlin.

The forecast on Monday calls for a 40 percent chance of rain.

The “Air Titan” drying trucks were making repeated passes on the 1.5-mile track, dragging their blowers and heaters over the surface, for hours after the rain ended. Pit road was dry enough at mid-afternoon for the cars to be brought out of the garage.

But NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell tweeted: “With each pass, there are ‘weepers’ in the asphalt with water pouring out. We are staying after it.’ ”

Weepers are cracks in the asphalt where water comes out.

The start of the race was scheduled for 2 p.m. Driver introductions and the anthem were conducted at 2:45 p.m., an hour and 15 minutes later than planned.

If necessary, a primetime race would have been no problem. In fact, the April race is normally a night race for TMS. It was moved off of Saturday night this year to avoid a conflict with the Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

NASCAR’s policy is to not start a race unless it can be run in its entirety, Gossage said. A race is official if half the laps are completed. The Duck Commander 500 is scheduled for 334 laps.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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