BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — The water-logged Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway was called after just 48 of 500 laps were run because of rainstorms throughout Saturday night.
The race will resume Sunday at 1 p.m.
NASCAR officials finally called it after more than three hours of delays. The race started more than an hour late because of rain, lightning and hail near the track. After just 38 laps, the race was halted as rain, somewhat heavy at times, hit the half-mile track.
Things cleared after a delay of 1 hour, 24 minutes and drivers got back in their cars. But after 10 slow caution laps, the heavy rain returned and things ended for good.
Kyle Busch had the lead, followed by Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
“We haven’t really even got going so I think until we get some laps and get racing it is really kind of hard to say how it’s going to go,” Elliott said. “I’m looking forward to the NAPA Auto Parts team getting back going tomorrow.”
Pole-sitter Carl Edwards, the winner at the track in the spring, led a top five qualifying filled with Joe Gibbs Racing racers. Along with Edwards, JGR teammates Hamlin was second, Busch was third and Kenseth fifth on Friday.
All four Gibbs’ drivers remained in the top seven with Edwards sliding down from No. 1 to seventh.
It’s the second time in three races weather has altered the Sprint Cup schedule. Rain at Pocono Raceway three weeks ago pushed that finish until Monday when rookie Chris Buescher won his first Sprint Cup title as continued bad weather shortened that race.
NASCAR may have looked hard for any free, dry windows of race time given that Bristol will begin transforming the race track into a football field to host Tennessee and Virginia Tech on Sept. 10. The track’s timeline gave them 19 days to convert the infield to a football field and make things ready for what Bristol executive vice president and general manager Jerry Caldwell figured would be more than 155,000 fans coming out to watch the game.
The conversion was expected to start early Sunday once the last NASCAR hauler had left the track. Now, that time line is crunched as the track must finish with its main attraction, the Sprint Cup series.