NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas underway after 6-hour delay
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas turned into a night race, finally getting underway after a rain delay of nearly six hours Sunday.
Polesitter Austin Dillon led the 40-car field to the line when the race began under caution, with the laps finally starting to count about 6:55 p.m. local time. That was after the cars had done 23 uncounted warmup laps to help dry some still-damp spots on the 1 1/2-mile track.
There was still a significant chance of more rain throughout the night.
Drivers were introduced and the national anthem performed near the scheduled 1 p.m. start. But rain started about the same time before drivers had even gotten into their cars.
This is the fourth consecutive race weekend at Texas with weather issues.
Efforts to dry the track included several dryer trucks continually circling the track throughout the afternoon and even when the race started under caution. That task was made more difficult with an overcast sky, and the temperature hovering around 60 degrees with very high humidity.
The AAA Texas 500 is the second-to-last race in NASCAR's playoffs before the season finale at Homestead in two weeks.
Jimmie Johnson, the only driver locked into to a championship shot in the finale, started 19th. He won the last four fall races at Texas.
The spring Cup race at Texas in April, which was a scheduled night race, was delayed more than two hours because of rain and didn't end until after midnight. Kyle Busch won that race.
In June, the IndyCar Series race was initially postponed a day because of the wet track. After starting late the following day, the race didn't get to the halfway point before there was more rain, and then wasn't completed until 2 1/2 months later.
Last November, Sprint Cup drivers lost their two scheduled practice sessions the day before the race while officials tried to dry the track following overnight rain, though the Xfinity Series race was run later that day.
The Cup race in April 2014 was postponed a day by rain.
BIG BOBBLEHEAD: The first 30,000 fans were given Tony Stewart bobbleheads commemorating the retiring Sprint Cup driver's final race at Texas. But during driver introductions, Stewart got a bobblehead of his own — a larger-than-life-sized replica of what was given to the fans.