For most of the day, not one of the 83,300 seats was occupied in the grandstand of New Hampshire International Speedway--a final statement from Hurricane Floyd before fading out to sea.

The storm that had rearranged the sports calendar for several days along the East Coast washed out practice and qualifying today for the Dura Lube 300.

Qualifying was rescheduled for Saturday, with the sun expected to make its first appearance in four days. The forecast for Sunday also is for sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s.

Jeff Burton wasn't too concerned about the postponement.

"It's okay," he said. "You can utilize this day to get everybody a little rest and spend a little time talking about something other than rear ends, transmissions, shocks and springs."

A few hundred feet away, teammate Mark Martin was doing exactly that. He looked at the dark clouds and rain pelting the asphalt, and tried to put a positive spin on what has been a difficult 13 months.

In July, he was beset with leg, wrist and rib fractures. Still, he started 37th in the Jiffy Lube 300 and wound up sixth, another display of grit from perhaps the most respected NASCAR driver of them all.

But Martin's emotional scars run even deeper.

"One of my best friends died this year and I had an uncle die this year, and I miss my dad, especially on the tougher days," he said. "I miss him putting his arms around me and saying something that will make me feel better."

Julian Martin died last August when his plane crashed. Mark finished second the next day in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and was told what happened after the race. He buried his father and went back to work.