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Oh, no! Yet another Sunday rainout for NASCAR...

  Juan Pablo Montoya shepherds his children, Sebastian and Paulina, through Sunday's rain at Watkins Glen (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   For the second straight week Sunday rain has forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Cup race until Monday: officials, in the face of light but persistent rain, called Sunday's 220-miler at Watkins Glen International at 4 p.m. and postponed it until noon Monday.
   Ironically perhaps the rain cleared up about 4:30, though the track of course was still wet and apparently not drying very well. However the situation could have been perfect for Goodyear's new rain tires – the track itself was just 'wet,' not sloppy, perfect for the rain tires, and the fans would have been dry themselves because it wasn't raining. In fact the sun was out and shining brightly at 6 p.m., with sunset set for 8:16 p.m., though dark clouds to the north loomed in the distance.
    Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are on the front row for the Monday start, but Tony Stewart may be the man to beat, based on his road course performances lately and his stellar job this season as owner-driver – Stewart is leading the tour standings.
   This 2.45-mile road course may not be as technically challenging as Sonoma, the tour's other road course, near San Francisco, but this place is a heck of a lot faster. "It's like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three," Stewart says. "This is just a lot faster track.
    "It still has the same elevation changes (as Sonoma), but you're just running a lot quicker here."
   And those double-file restarts?
   "It's easier to run two-wide through here through turn one (than at Sonoma), so it's going to make the starts real excited -- this track is very conducive to having double-file restarts and not getting people in trouble trying to get filed down to one lane," Stewart says.
   Still it's difficult to imagine drivers running the entire course two-wide….so at some point some one will have to give…..
   And at some point perhaps TV executives, who are apparently the reason for the planned 2 p.m. or later starting times – to boost ratings? – may take note of the weather and potential for rainouts in their planning. Last Monday's rain-postponed Pocono race drew a dismal 1.8 rating.
   ESPN officials point to NASCAR as setting the race starting times."It's ultimately NASCAR's call," ESPN's Julie Sobieski, the head of programming and acquisitions, says.


  Goodyear's new rain tires (R) were up and ready to run in Saturday's Nationwide race, but weren't needed....and NASCAR doesn't run Sunday Cup races in the rain...yet. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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