NASCAR: Rain forces first-ever Daytona 500 postponement; green flag at noon ET Monday

By Reid Spencer NASCAR Wire Service

Daytona Beach, FL  -- Persistent rain washed out the 54th running of the Daytona 500, forcing a postponement of the Great American Race for the first time in its history.

 After a storm cell negated track-drying efforts at approximately 5 p.m. ET, NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway announced the postponement until noon ET Monday. The race will be broadcast live on FOX.

On four occasions, the most recent in 2009, rain has shortened the Daytona 500, but until Sunday, inclement weather had never prevented the field from taking the green flag on the appointed day.   The Sprint Cup garage will open at 9 a.m. ET Monday.  

In addition to rain-shortened races in 1965, 1966, 2003 and 2009, rain has affected four other Daytona 500s, the most notable the watershed 1979 event in which CBS gave viewers the first live flag-to-flag coverage of a NASCAR race.  

The battle between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough on the racetrack, followed by the televised fistfight between Yarborough and the Allison brothers in the infield, is part of NASCAR lore. Fewer fans remember that the first 16 laps of that race were run under caution because of rain.  

Carl Edwards won the pole for the Daytona 500 in last Sunday's qualifying session and will lead the field to the green flag a day later than planned.  

"This is one of the toughest things for us drivers," Edwards said of the postponement. "When you put that off for another day, it's who can stay focused -- not just the drivers, but the pit crews and teams."  

Because the rain has washed rubber from the racetrack, Edwards won't be surprised if NASCAR calls a competition caution early in the race.  

"The rain will make the track a little more abrasive at the start," he said.