Rain pushes race back to today

Monday, March 20, 2006

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Rain at the Atlanta Motor Speedway postponed the NASCAR race Sunday moments before the start, and it was rescheduled for Monday -- when more rain was in the forecast.

Officials at the Golden Corral 500 tried to wait out the large front, but the rain kept coming and the announcement was finally made after 2 1/2 hours.

NASCAR rescheduled the Nextel Cup event for 10 a.m. today, but the National Weather Service forecast called for a 70 percent chance of rain today and a 30 percent chance of rain Tuesday morning.

The last time a Cup race was postponed by rain was at the Atlanta track in October 2003. It was run on Monday.

"This is tough right here," said Cup star Elliott Sadler. "Mentally and physically, you're trying to get ready for the race and get prepared, but you don't know whether it's going to happen.

"The weather for tomorrow doesn't look that good, either. It's tough on everybody, not only us but the crews and the guys who are going through trying to get the cars inspected in the rain and the fans. It's just a tough day."

The delay also postponed the Cup debut of Bill Lester, the first black driver to qualify for a race in NASCAR's top series since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986.

Lester drew a big cheer during Sunday's prerace introductions and spent much of the morning surrounded by photographers and well-wishers.

"This is really exciting," said Lester, a longtime regular in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. "I can hardly wait to get started racing."

The 43 cars entered in the race were placed in impound by NASCAR and will not be returned to the teams until just before the start of the race.

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