DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Ambush Sports) — For the second time in 62 years, “The Great American Race” will finish on a Monday after rainfall resulted in two lengthy delays lasting more than three hours combined. The season opener started with a visit from President Donald Trump.
The first delay of the day occurred moments after the presidential motorcade with Trump’s armored limo, dubbed “The Beast,” completed a ceremonial parade lap around the track, as a brief shower opened up following the motorcade’s exit from Daytona International Speedway, forcing drivers back to pit road. The race start was pushed back 13 minutes to accommodate the president’s trip around the track.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the field to the green flag and was in the front of the pack for the first twenty laps before a heavier rainfall soaked the racing surface, which takes hours to dry to suitable conditions.
Drivers were called back to their cars by NASCAR officials around 6:40 p.m. Eastern in hopes that they could get some more laps in before more rainfall came down. Only some drivers showed, resulting in a forced postponement.
The postponement to Monday has choked some of the excitement of an event that makes for raucous celebration for hours, mostly prompted by Trump’s dramatic entrance, as Air Force One performed a flyover and lacked at Daytona International Airport just a few hundred yards behind the track, with the motorcade arriving minutes later.
Roughly a dozen drivers were escorted from their pre-race meeting to a private introduction with Trump.
“I got to meet the president! How cool is that?” driver Aric Almirola said.
Trump was present with wife Melania as the race’s grand marshal and gave the command for the drivers to start their engines.
“For 500 heart-pounding miles, these fierce competitors will chase the checkered flag, fight for the Harley J. Earl Trophy and make their play for pure American glory,” Trump said. “That’s what it is: pure American glory.”
Brian France, former NASCAR chairman, and CEO was on Air Force One with the Trumps as they traveled to Daytona from West Palm Beach. France was removed from his position and replaced by Jim France following a DUI arrest in August 2018.
Current chairman and CEO Jim France and top executives Lesa France Kennedy and Ken Kennedy were among those who met the Trumps at the airport.
The race is set to resume at 4 p.m. Eastern and will air on FOX (check your affiliate for local listings).