Rain postpones Coke Zero 400 at Daytona to Sunday

Daytona Beach, FL ( - Mother Nature has interfered with racing at Daytona International Speedway once again.

Persistent rain during the late afternoon and evening hours at Daytona forced the postponement of Saturday's Coke Zero 400. This 400-mile race has been rescheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. It will be televised on TNT.

The start time had been slated for 7:57 p.m. ET. NASCAR officials made the decision to postpone it shortly before 9 p.m., as rain continued to fall on this 2.5-mile superspeedway.

"We had a tough day with rain most of the day, and from a radar perspective, it was popping up around us," track president Joie Chitwood III said. "We didn't think it was going to get this bad this long. We worked with NASCAR as much as we could, in terms of timing. You reach a point right now where as it continues to rain, if we use an hour and 45 minutes to dry this track, which is a really short amount of time using Air Titan and the jets, typically we'd be well over two hours to dry the track.

"You start thinking about an 11 p.m. start, which means you would actually finish the event anywhere from 2 a.m. to a little bit later. You think about public safety and getting people home and all those things. So with the rain still around us and coming down, we would not be able to dry the track for a reasonable start time tonight."

Showers and thunderstorms have disrupted track activities here throughout the weekend. On Friday, knockout qualifying for both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series was shortened to only one round in the scheduled three-round session due to inclement weather. The start of the 250-mile Nationwide race that evening was delayed 90 minutes for precipitation as well. The event did finish in its entirety, with Kasey Kahne beating Regan Smith to finish line by 0.020 seconds.

David Gilliland will lead the 43-car field to the green flag. Gilliland won his first pole in Sprint Cup since the 2007 Daytona 500. Reed Sorenson will start second, followed by Landon Cassill, Bobby Labonte and Jimmie Johnson, who won this race one year ago, scoring a season-sweep at Daytona.

Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the Daytona 500 in February, David Ragan, Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, and Greg Biffle will roll off sixth through 10, respectively.

According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for the Daytona Beach area on Sunday calls for 40 percent chance of rain in the morning and early afternoon hours.

Four Sprint Cup races this season have been interrupted by rain. The Daytona 500 had delays of 6 hours and 22 minutes, and the March race at Bristol featured delays totaling 5 hours.

The Duck Commander 500 at Texas (scheduled for April 6) was the first race this season to be postponed one day due to bad weather.