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Daytona 500 postponed until Monday due to persistent rain

By Travis Caldwell and Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — The Daytona 500 has been postponed until Monday for just the third time in its history due to “inclement weather,” organizers announced Sunday.

The NASCAR Cup Series was scheduled to return to Florida on Sunday as 40 drivers vie to win “The Great American Race.”

The annual star-studded affair – actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the honorary grand marshal for the event, for starters – is expecting a sold-out crowd in attendance, millions watching from home and first-time viewers who may have caught the sport’s new docuseries on Netflix.

But Saturday’s rainfall, in addition with Sunday’s stormy forecast, has pushed the race back until Monday.

Here’s what to know before the cars whip around Daytona International Speedway.

How to watch

The 200-lap, 500-mile race will now begin at 4pm ET on Monday afternoon and can be seen on FOX and its streaming services.

Rain, rain, go away

The most immediate concern for the event is the weather. Consistent rainfall washed out Saturday’s lower-division Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s forecast is far from sunny.

Daytona is a 2.5-mile superspeedway with high-banked corners, one of the largest ovals in the series – due to its sheer size, drying the track will rely on the rain holding off for at least an hour or two before cars can start and safely navigate at top speed. Whenever a new line of storms rolls through, the process begins anew.

And, as had been feared beforehand, the weather dampened the festivities, postponing the race until Monday.

And it was all yellow

You’re not seeing double – two yellow Ford Mustangs will be starting on the front row.

A two-time series champion and 2015 Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano took the pole position with an average qualifying lap speed of 181.947 mph and will be a favorite to run up front throughout the day.

Starting second is Michael McDowell, who earned his first Cup victory in this race three years ago in a Cinderella upset. McDowell just missed out on his first career pole Wednesday by a blink of an eye – a lap 0.071 seconds slower than Logano’s.

While the Fords dominated single-car qualifying to determine the first two starting spots, Toyotas claimed wins in both of Thursday’s 60-lap qualifying heat races that set the order for the rest of the field.

Notable names

Here’s where other stars of the series will line up for Monday’s race:

Ryan Blaney, last year’s Cup Series champion, will start near the rear in 32nd after a vicious crash in Thursday’s qualifying races totaled his No. 12 Ford and several other cars.

Chase Elliott, the fan favorite and title contender looking to rebound after missing multiple races last year due to injury, will start fifth in the No. 9 Chevrolet.

Denny Hamlin, a three-time 500 winner who won NASCAR’s preseason event at the Los Angeles Coliseum two weeks ago, will start eighth in the No. 11 Toyota.

Bubba Wallace, who has finished second in the 500 twice and drives for a team co-owned by Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan, will line up 24th in the No. 23 Toyota.

William Byron, who won the most Cup races of any driver last season with six, will start 18th in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Teammate Kyle Larson – who won four races last year – will start alongside in 17th.

Kyle Busch, a polarizing personality who has now become an elder statesman of the sport, will be gunning for his first 500 win in the No. 8 Chevrolet from the 34th position.

NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson returns from semi-retirement to try and win from the 23rd position in the No. 84 Toyota, a ride he co-owns with NASCAR icon Richard Petty.

Ross Chastain, whose daring last-lap pass while riding against the wall at Martinsville in 2022 went viral and earned him a bid in that year’s championship final, drives for the team co-owned by music star Pitbull and will start 21st in the No. 1 Chevrolet.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the defending race champion and often competitive at superspeedways, will start 35th in the No. 47 Chevrolet.

Quick hits

New to the sport? Here are a few more details to know:

· Much like driving in your everyday vehicle, no one is allowed to cross the double-yellow line. Any driver that attempts to pass while going below the line painted at the bottom of the track will be penalized.

· With all the cars running at similar speeds, bump-drafting and blocking are heavily used to advance or defend positions. This can lead to split-second decisions and mistakes, resulting in calamitous pileups at 200 mph.

· NASCAR races are split into three stages – at the ends of stages one and two, a caution flag will be displayed and points will be awarded that go toward determining each year’s overall champion. NASCAR uses a points playoff system that gradually eliminates drivers over its final ten races, leaving only four drivers at the season finale in November to race for the title.

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