Richmond's Sprint Cup Race Is Postponed
Saturday, September 6, 2008
RICHMOND, Sept. 5 -- NASCAR teams and fans have waited eagerly for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, the race that sets the 12-driver Chase for the Cup.
Now they will all have to wait one more day.
NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway officials, along with state and local authorities, postponed Saturday night's Sprint Cup race until Sunday at 1 p.m. because of the threat of heavy rains and high winds from Tropical Storm Hanna.
A steady rain began late Friday afternoon, washing out the Sprint Cup qualifying as well as the Nationwide Series qualifying and race. The Nationwide race will be run Sunday at 7 p.m.
"In lieu of the weather, in lieu of the forecast, in lieu of what all the state, local and city officials are telling us about the impending winds, we felt this was the right decision to make," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said.
Hunter said fan safety was among the primary reasons for the decision, which was announced shortly before 6 p.m. More than 60,000 fans typically attend the Nationwide Series race, while the Sprint Cup race attracts about 110,000. Recreational vehicles will be allowed to remain on the property, track president Doug Fritz said.
"There's going to be some high winds tonight, and in the morning that could knock down power lines and trees," Hunter said. "So we felt this was the right thing to do."
Fritz added: "Sometimes there's hope, and sometimes there's not. This was one of those moving targets. We're still looking for two days of great racing all crammed into one."
The National Weather Service, meantime, issued a flash flood warning for Richmond while forecasting winds that could reach 35 mph, with occasional gusts of 50 mph or more.
Friday's washout also means that 18-year-old phenom Joey Logano won't make his highly anticipated Sprint Cup debut on Sunday because the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was unable to qualify. Logano will replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota on a full-time basis next season.
The field will be set based on driver standings, meaning Kyle Busch will start alongside Carl Edwards, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton. All cars will be locked inside the team haulers and released to teams at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Hunter said.
The postponement also creates a challenging situation for the Sprint Cup teams and drivers, who had set up their cars to run at night. Now the race will be contested under expected sunny skies and temperatures reaching near 90 degrees.