Sports

Rainout marks a first for Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Three Stooges. Kate Upton. The Air Force Thunderbirds.

NASCAR's biggest stage was set.

Instead, around the time the checkered flag would have been waving, the Daytona 500 was postponed Sunday because of rain.

Rain so hard it knocked the awning off Carl Edwards' motor home.

"I woke up to the sound of it collapsing. It did cost me a little bit," Edwards said.

The rain cost NASCAR, too. Although the start of the race was rescheduled for 11 a.m. today, it won't be the same.

The Sprint Cup series roared into the weekend with momentum from a sizzling Bud Shootout win by Kyle Busch that started Speedweeks, a hot pole-winning lap from Edwards, a Gatorade Duel win by series champion Tony Stewart, and Danica Patrick's pending debut in the Great American Race.

Characters from the upcoming movie The Three Stooges clowned around in the grandstand. Two of the movie's stars, Glee actress Jane Lynch and Upton, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, were going to give the start command. MMA fighter John Cena was set to wave the green flag. The Thunderbirds still did a flyover.

NASCAR had a Sunday afternoon all planned and all to itself.

Instead, stock car racing's top series had to yield the national stage while the Academy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game took over.

Bummer.

"All the fans that have been here had beautiful weather for 11 days almost, then today is not the best day," said Texas native Bobby Labonte, who will make his 20th start in the Daytona 500, going off 32nd. "So I hate it for that. I hate it for the fans."

"There was some great energy and momentum, some great racing on track," track president Joie Chitwood III said. "We still saw some great things today. Lenny Kravitz's concert. John Cena was here. It's just disappointing to see all those great elements and not be able to see a great race to accompany it."

It was the first time the Daytona 500 had to wait a day. The race had been delayed or interrupted eight other times, but it never had been forced to Monday.

Not a bad record in Florida, said Edwards, whose pole-winning lap of 194.738 mph was the fastest at Daytona International Speedway since 1999.

"They've been living right to have 53 of these and never have one postponed," he said.

"I just tweeted that I guess I'm going to have to win the first Monday Daytona 500," said Greg Biffle, who will start on the front row with Edwards.

But NASCAR will need a little more luck today. There's still a strong chance of rain, which could mean the race will be run Tuesday. Chitwood said he wanted to wait before talking about plans for Tuesday.

So two more days in Daytona Beach remain possible. Maybe Edwards will have that awning working by then.

"We stood out there in the rain and worked on it for a long time," he said.

Daytona knows the feeling.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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