Any day that rains at a NASCAR race track is not a good day for drivers, teams or the fans.
Unfortunately, this scenario happened at Pocono Raceway on Sunday when the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 was plagued by rain, fog and weepers on the track.
NASCAR finally called the race at 4:30 p.m. ET after it was evident that the track would not be ready before darkness descended. Since there are no lights at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR knew that there was literally no chance to get the entire race in.
So, how does a rain delay and eventual postponement affect the drivers, teams and fans?
Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion this weekend, said "It's hurry up and wait for everybody. It's a tough one because everybody wants to get it in because there are a lot of people that have driven a long ways and planned for weeks for this weekend."
Labonte continued, "What's tough, everybody's got a schedule for the week and everybody's got plans, and they're all changed right now."
"We can't get those days back," Labonte said.
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS car, said, "Certainly we all want to race for several reasons, but for the most part, for all of the fans sitting up there in the stands."
Ragan acknowledged that the drivers do have it somewhat easier than the fans, who are out braving the elements.
"We have the comfort of a TV and a trailer and come company, but they're sitting out there," Ragain said. "It is what is is. We can't do anything about it."
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal car—at least for the present, as rumors continue to swirl about his status on the team—seemed philosophical about it all.
"I just think being around another day won't be fun for anybody, but this is certainly not as bad as Michigan two years ago when we were there until Tuesday," said McMurray.
So, what do the crew chiefs think about the rain postponement? Pat Tryson, crew chief of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driven by Kurt Busch said, "I think you'll see a better race on Monday."
"It's always a little easier when you know what to expect. Everyone will start with the idea we're going to go 500 miles."
Kenny Francis, crew chief for the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge driven by Kasey Kahne said, "I don't think the delay until Monday changes anything. The car is already through tech, set up and ready to go."
Francis continued: "As far as strategy, there isn't any strategy to it except to try and stay up front. I think there'll still be a competition yellow (which NASCAR has scheduled for after 20 laps)."
"The first run, we'll be putting rubber back down and it will be a little hard on the tires," said Francis.
Rain postponements can also play havoc with the schedules of the hauler drivers. Jim Gilbert, driver of the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota driven by Scott Speed said, "It's not going to be too bad this week, even if we're here Monday."
"We've got enough people at the shop to turn the truck around so everything will be good," concluded Gilbert.
The big question is whether or not the fans will be able to return for race Monday. While the camping and RV lots were noticeably light in volume and particularly muddy all around, there has now been a steady stream of fans making their way into the Raceway.
So, welcome to race day—or perhaps it should be called Groundhog Day at Pocono Raceway. For indeed the drivers, teams, and fans are ready to do it all over again.
Photo Credit: Mary Jo Buchanan
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