Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The 62nd running of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Fla., was postponed Sunday because of rain, putting a damper on a race day that included President Donald Trump taking a spin around the track in his limousine.
The race will resume at 4 p.m. EST Monday after only 20 laps were run. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who started from the pole, was the race leader when the action was stopped.
The scheduled start at Daytona International Speedway was delayed 62 minutes because of a storm system that hit the track during the pace laps. NASCAR made an attempt to bring drivers back to their cars about 6:30 p.m., but another round of showers hit the area, preventing the race from continuing.
Trump served as the grand marshal for the race.
"We love our country and it's truly an honor to be with you," Trump said in front of the sold-out 100,000-seat grandstand and thousands more in the infield, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump.
And then he proclaimed: "Gentlemen: Start your engines."
Two presidential limousines participated in the 2 1/2-mile pace lap with two official pace cars and the 40 race cars. But the race was delayed by rain for more than one hour and drivers got out of their cars. The green flag was waved at 4:19 p.m., but 15 minutes later rain halted the race.
By then the president and his entourage were gone.
"POTUS motorcade began rolling from the Daytona speedway at 3:41 pm, this time taking a tunnel underneath the track to exit," Michael Wilner, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, wrote in a White House pool report.
Trump boarded Air Force One just before 4 p.m. and headed back to Washington, D.C. The first lady was not with him, according to the pool report.
"It was fantastic. Incredible day. Incredible people," he told Wilner.
Trump was the second sitting U.S. president to attend a Daytona 500 and the first to have a role in the prerace festivities. Former President George W. Bush attended the 2004 Daytona 500.
"It is a patriotic type of thing," Trump said about Daytona 500, which is known as the "Great American Race," during an interview on Fox TV before the race. "We love NASCAR and the people of NASCAR."
The Trumps emerged from their limousine on the track. They stood for God Bless America and the Star-Spangled Banner, which included a flyover six F-16s by the Air Force Thunderbirds.
The motorcade earlier entered the track, making roughly a quarter-lap before pulling aside. Greeters included Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy, co-owners of NASCAR.
Air Force One arrived at 1:04 p.m. at Daytona Beach International Airport, according to White House pool reports. Guests aboard included Donald Trump Jr. and Brian France, former CEO of NASCAR, on the flight from West Palm Beach. Trump had spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach.
The plane performed a dramatic flyover, shown live on Fox, turning sharply over the speedway at a low altitude. Later, the Trumps toured the track in a 22,000-pound Cadillac, known as "The Beast."
NASCAR announced Thursday that reserved tickets for the 62nd annual Daytona 500 were sold out for the fifth consecutive year. The crowd might diminish somewhat with the postponement.
Reigning champion Denny Hamlin qualified 21st, but was the favorite.
"We've been very fortunate in the last eight to 10 years to be in contention for a lot of these Daytona 500s," Hamlin said of his team Wednesday at Daytona 500 media day. "Hopefully, we are able to miss [wrecks] again this year."
Stenhouse Jr. won the pole for the season-opening race, turning in a 194.582-mph lap one week ago Sunday during qualifying. Alex Bowman started next to him on the front row.
The order for the rest of the 20-row field was determined during two more qualifying races Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
Joey Logano claimed the checkered flag at Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 Thursday. William Byron won Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 2. Logano and Byron earned spots in the second row of the Daytona 500.
"Honestly, the goal is to win," Logano said. "There is really no other goal outside of that. ... This is the biggest race of the year. It means so much to win it. There are so many crazy things that can happen
Kyle Busch, who qualified in the eighth position, had five wins and 17 top-five finishes in 2019.
Jimmie Johnson, 44, is racing in his last Daytona 500 with a sixth-place qualification. He's a two-time champion of the race and seven-time Cup Series champion
Highlights from the 62nd running of the Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane after winning his second consecutive Daytona 500 on Monday. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Ryan Newman's car flips
as Hamlin (110) and Ryan Blaney (12) race to the finish line. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Ross Chastain's crew scrambles as he overshoots his pit. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Newman leads with help by a push from Hamlin with about 20 laps to go. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
The field is lined up Monday before the restart of the race after a rain delay on Sunday.
Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
The field takes the green flag to start the rain delay on Sunday. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Rickey Stenhouse Jr. (47) and Alex Bowman (88) lead field to the green flag. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
William Byron (24) heads a three-wide pack after the start of the race. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave to crowd from "the Beast" before the beginning of the race. Trump was the race's grand marshal. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
The Trumps walk down pit row prior to the race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Darius Rucker performs before the race. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Air Force One with President Donald Trump aboard arrives before the 2020 Daytona 500 on Sunday. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Cole Custer (L) and Bubba Wallace greet fans during driver introductions prior to race on Sunday. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Stenhouse poses for a selfie during introductions. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
WWE Superstar Sheamus loosens up for his duties as pace car driver. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Rising NASCAR racer Hailie Deegan takes in the sights before the race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Team owner Roger Penske attends pre-race festivities. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Noah Gragson and his team celebrate winning the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Saturday. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
It was Gragson's first victory
in nearly two years. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Gragson celebrates the win with burnouts. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
From left to right on track, Gragson, Brandon Jones, Chase Briscoe and Michael Annett navigate the track. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
The crew for Jesse Little works on his car late in the race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Safety crews rush to assist wrecked pole winner Myatt Snider. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Riley Herbst (18) has a terrible end to his day after contact with Chris Cockrum (partially obscured). Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Gragson (9) navigates past a pack of cars. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Snider hits the pits. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Gragson makes a pit stop. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Snider leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Racing Experience 300. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Cars race to their pits after Stage 2. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Jimmie Johnson (48), Michael McDowell (34) and Elliott (9) practice. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Kurt Busch waits for the start of practice. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
From left to right, NASCAR Chevrolet Team owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Chip Ganassi and Richard Petty discuss the upcoming Daytona 500. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Kurt Busch answers questions before practice. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Kyle Larson. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Chris Buescher. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Maj. Michelle Curran greets her ground crew after arriving for the Daytona 500 on Friday. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Chase Briscoe (98) leads a pack during NASCAR Xfinity practice. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Josh Bilicki. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Ray Black Jr. prepares for NASCAR Xfinity practice. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Briscoe. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Ryan Newman meets with guests at the Roush-Fenway luncheon. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Chris Buescher (L), Jack Roush (C) and Ryan Newman(R) meet with guests at the Roush-Fenway luncheon. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Clint Boyer's crew goes to work during a pit stop in the Duel at Daytona 2 qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Thursday. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Kyle Busch's crew heads back to the garage after he finished 13th in the Duel at Daytona 2 qualifying race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
William Byron (24) wins Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 on Thursday. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Denny Hamlin's crew completes a pit stop during the Duel at Daytona 1 qualifying race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
The Menards crew members for Ryan Blaney complete a prayer before the start of the Duel at Daytona 1 qualifying race. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Joey Logano celebrates
after winning the first of two of the Bluegreen Vacations Duel. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Logano was among the drivers who helped Ford sweep the qualifying races. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Pole winner Stenhouse Jr. (R) and Alex Bowman started in the front row for the main event before it was called due to rain. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Stenhouse (C) and Alex Bowman started in the front row for the main race on Sunday. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI