DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The biggest and most anticipated race of the NASCAR Cup Series season will have to wait until Monday.
The green flag for Sunday’s Daytona 500 flew a little after 4 p.m. ET following pre-race festivities with President Donald Trump and a short rain delay, but the race wasn’t green for long.
Drivers raced just 20 of 200 scheduled laps before the rain returned, and NASCAR officials threw out a red flag, officially postponing the race around 6:50 p.m. ET.
The remainder of the Daytona 500 is set to restart Monday at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FOX.
Pole winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 47 Chevrolet led all 20 laps, as the Fords of Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski followed, respectively. They appeared content to let Stenhouse to hold onto his lead, allowing him to burn a little more fuel than them.
William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon, all in Chevrolets, and Timmy Hill, who raced his way into the Daytona 500 in the No. 66 Ford, rounded out the top 10 when the race was red flagged.
NASCAR made one more attempt to bring drivers back to their cars around 6:30 p.m. ET until another downpour hit Daytona International Speedway, preventing the race from continuing the same day it started.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Johnson started his last Daytona 500 as a full-time driver, as he plans to retire at the end of the 2020 season. However, he said he didn’t know if this would be his final Daytona 500 ever.
Trump serves as grand marshal
President Trump became the second sitting president to serve as grand marshal for the Daytona 500, joining George W. Bush in 2004.
Trump received loud cheers from fans at Daytona International Speedway when Air Force One flew over the track, as the presidential motorcade entered the speedway grounds and when he addressed the crowd in a brief pre-race speech:
“NASCAR fans never forget no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country,” Trump told the crowd from victory lane.
“To all of the drivers, technicians, and pit crews here today, God bless you, God bless our military, God bless our veterans and God Bless America.”
The President then delivered those most famous words in racing “Gentleman, start your engines,” to start the Daytona 500.
He then paced the 40-car field around the track in the presidential limo — a first for any president — and delivered a personal address to drivers on their radio channels.
Contributing: The Daytona Beach News-Journal