Rain pushes Martinsville race to Monday
NASCAR's bad weather luck at Martinsville Speedway reared its head again Sunday as rain forced the postponed of the Sprint Cup race until Monday at noon.
It is the second year in a row that rain pushed an event into the work week at the track in southwest Virginia. Last spring, the truck series event had to be run on Monday.
Rain also has washed out Sprint Cup qualifying for the past three spring races, putting points leader Kevin Harvick on the pole for the race. Harvick will be seeking a weekend sweep after dominating the truck race that was run in sunshine and ideal conditions Saturday.
Many drivers traded their ball caps for knit caps and wore heavy coats for driver introductions Sunday, which were conducted under heavy cloud cover and in a steady rain.
"It stinks for the fans and all the teams, but the fortunate thing is we've got an off week coming up, so it's not like this is going to put everybody way behind," said A.J. Allmendinger, who will start 21st.
NASCAR's premier series is taking its traditional break of the season for Easter next weekend.
The Monday race will be the first in the Sprint Cup Series since last August at Watkins Glen, N.Y. It will be the first Cup race on a Monday in Martinsville since the fall of 2001.
The absence of lights for night racing at the 0.526-mile oval meant the window for racing was already small considering the time it would take to dry the track if the rain stopped.
NASCAR does not allow a race to start unless it's feasible for the entire event to be run, and races at Martinsville take up to 4 hours to complete.
The call to postpone was made about 90 minutes after the scheduled 1 p.m. start.
The postponement also will push back Denny Hamlin's plans to have arthroscopic surgery on Monday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He still hopes to have the procedure this week so he'll have time to recover before the next race on April 10.