By David Morgan, Associate Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mother Nature won the day at Daytona International Speedway as persistent rain eventually forced NASCAR’s hand to postpone Saturday night’s scheduled Coke Zero Sugar 400 to Sunday.
Though NASCAR waited out the rain for Friday night’s Xfinity Series race, which did not reach its conclusion until the early morning hours on Saturday, the sanctioning body pulled the plug on the Cup Series race shortly after the scheduled start time on Saturday night, rolling the dice on better weather during the day on Sunday.
With the postponement, the regular season finale is now planned for 10:15 am ET and will air on CNBC.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will lead the field to green, with Joey Logano starting in third. They will be followed by Daniel Suarez in fourth, Christopher Bell in fifth, along with Tyler Reddick in sixth, Kevin Harvick in seventh, Chris Buescher in eighth, Michael McDowell in ninth, and Alex Bowman rounding out the top-10 starters.
Larson explained that he was unsure of how the cars would handle with the transition from a night race to a race in the heat of the day under the Florida sun.
“This place, the handling will be more of a factor for sure during the day than at night,” Larson said. “I mean just the whole track is slicker, but I feel like turn four gets really tight. So, I don’t know and I don’t remember us being on track earlier this year with the sun out. In Talladega, handling is not a big deal there. The cars drove really good there gripped up. So, yeah, I am sure it will play a factor as it always does. As far as the race, I am not really sure.”
When the green flag flies on Sunday, just two spots remain up for grabs in the Playoffs, with Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex, Jr. currently sitting 15th and 16th in points, respectively. Blaney currently holds a 25-point advantage over Truex in the standings.
Blaney will start the 160-lap race in 16th, while Truex will roll off in 13th place.