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Hey, it's the Daytona 500 in PrimeTime: Monday Night NASCAR on Fox!

  Pro wrestling star John Cena (R) making the rounds in the NASCAR garage Sunday, here with Joey Logano, one of the darkhorses in the Daytona 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



    (Updated Monday)



   By Mike Mulhern


   Turning a potentially big downer into what could well be a pot of gold, NASCAR and Fox are resetting the Daytona 500 for its first TV primetime start, 7 p.m. ET Monday night,
   How well will stock car racing fare in primetime?
   This could be a landmark event for the sport, if everything plays out just right.

   And that would be a remarkable turnaround from what Sunday night appeared to be a veritable disaster, with rain washing out the sport's biggest race for the first time in its 54 years.

Chevy's Tony Stewart (L), dealing with the rain (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


  At least no one crashed Sunday – Rain idled everyone here at Daytona International Speedway, except the men driving those jet dryers. And the men and women in the Daytona 500 had another night of fitful sleep before preparing to crank up engines for the NASCAR Sprint Cup season opener, with an historic postponement, first ever, for this event.
   That, of course, presumes the rain stops.
   There was a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms at noon Monday, which was to be the new starting time. However at noon the rain, though still hanging heavy in the area, had stopped.
   Fox execs say they are committed to carrying the 500 live, whenever it's run.
   TV was to carry the Daytona 500 Monday, with green flag set for 12:01 p.m. ET.
   However Monday morning NASCAR announced a new starting time for the sport's lead-off event: 7 p.m. ET. Under the lights.
   Ford men Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are on the front row.
   "Putting it off for another day, now it's up to who can stay focused, and not just the drivers but the crews too," Edwards said.
   "What is the weather forecast for Monday? Oh…..
   "I'm assuming they could wait till 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Monday night (for the start). It would be neat for fans to watch the Daytona 500 under the lights."
   However it's unclear how committed Fox might be to putting the 500 on in primetime, if the race can't get started by 4 p.m. or so. And it's unclear if NASCAR would, in that case, postpone things yet another day, till Tuesday….or perhaps look at rescheduling the Daytona 500 for the next open weekend – Easter weekend in April.
   This year's 500 was scheduled a week later than usual, because of concern about the NFL expanding its season. However that move killed the opportunity to use President's Day Monday as a rain day here.
   Track president Joie Chitwood didn't want to discuss anything yet other than trying to run the race Monday.

    Not sure who these people are or what they have to do with the Daytona 500. Hope they're just visiting (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  This day's delay gives crews a little less time to changeover parts and cars in haulers back in Charlotte for the trip this week to Phoenix. And it could be costly in TV ratings, which been slowly on the rise lately.
   Or, with the primetime slot, it could be an unexpected boon for the sport.
   The lead-up events have been marred with numerous frightening crashes.
   A bevy of new rules here – no radio communications between cars, new fuel injection systems, higher engine temperatures and more 'idiot lights' on the dashboards, looser races cars – have dramatically changed things since last year….and possibly not for the better.
   NASCAR wants to eliminate two-car drafts, which were the norm last year on the smooth new asphalt. Hence the new rules.
   However this SpeedWeeks has been marked by numerous multi-car crashes.  "Thank God for soft walls, and I'm sure Danica Patrick is saying that too," Bobby Labonte says. Labonte is running in his 20th Daytona 500.
   "Yes, it's two-car tandem drafting, but now 'Oh, it's in a pack too.'
   "It's been a lot of carnage, and that's unfortunate for the car owners. Glad we didn't have a car in Saturday's race."
   Drivers are still running in two-car packs, but only for short spurts. However during those short spurts the two-car draft can rip off a very fast-closing run.
   And blocking has once again become a serious topic for drivers.
    "The track, with the rain, will be a little more abrasive, so I expect NASCAR will give us a competition yellow early to check for wear," Edwards said. "Sometimes you worry about running too much camber here, at these speeds…."
    This 500 has been shaping up as a Ford versus Chevrolet race, though Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Joey Logano have both looked sharp.
    And of course it is Danica Patrick's Cup debut, with even more media attention to her than usual. She has crashed in her two races so far, Thursday's 150 and Saturday's Nationwide 300.
    Her reactions at the wheel in the Nationwide are being reviewed by rivals, because in trying to save it she wound up hard in the wall.
    "Next time that happens, she'll probably just lock the brakes up and be fine," Edwards says.
   "This place is weird. The first time I came here, in the Trucks, I wrecked so hard in the trioval, because I thought I could save it…when I should have just locked the brakes up.
   "I'm sure she's really frustrated….and she won't make that mistake again."
    Edwards, after spending Sunday in the rain, was actually more interested in talking about his recent ride with the Air Force Thunderbirds…who allowed him to take the reins of an F-16. "It's kind of cool to get some of your tax money back," Edwards said with a laugh.
   "And Bill Elliott really got his money's worth when he did his flight…."
   That was a reference to Elliott's race promotion flight a few years ago in which his plane collided with another plane, whose pilot then had to eject. Things were dicey for Elliott for a while but his pilot managed to land with the two having to eject.


Lenny Kravitz: 'My band is sort of like NASCAR -- you go fast, we play loud." (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)






Mike, I'm curious. Whatever

Mike, I'm curious. Whatever happened to the President Obama/NASCAR's relationship? It's nuthin' new that in the heavy Republican South & NASCAR fan base that NASCAR tries to show its political "conservative" viewpoints to gain more or expand it's fan base. But whatever happened to President Obama attending a NASCAR race? Was he ever invited to a race like he extended NASCAR to the White House to promote the sport?

Or is it really a security issue?

Here's a man that can fly into a war torn region in Afghanistan but yet can't even experience a NASCAR race due to possible "anti Obama haters"? Kinda sad, actually. I'm sure if he does attend a race between now and November, it ain't for votes, that's for sure! But after he wins the 2012 election, he can mosey on down I-95 to Richmond to catch a race, chilli dog/fried bologna sandwich and a beer! No worries. No problem.

well, i understand the

well, i understand the conservative bent among the sport's heavy hitters....but to me it just doesnt make sense to aggravate/irritate/turnoff so many potential customers just for politics. to me that's simply bad business. but then not every business move nascar men make makes a lot of sense anyway. if i were obama, i'd show up at chicagolands in september, and at california in a couple of weeks....and at michigan in august....

I still have the recording of

I still have the recording of the race to watch, but I too was eonjying the lovely weather we had out in the Bay Area this weekend. What a lovely couple days its been! LOVE the pictures of the Nationwide drivers decorating Easter eggs. That would have been a fun event to attend. And congratulations to Joey Logano on winning. Can't wait to watch how it unfolded.

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