Highlights from the 62nd running of the Daytona 500
Mother Nature may attempt to put the brakes on the excitement surrounding the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening event, the Daytona 500, on Sunday.
AccuWeather meteorologists say stray showers will be in the Daytona Beach, Fla., area throughout the weekend. While a washout is not anticipated either day, the brief downpours could lead to delays on the racetrack.
"Every aspect of the weather can impact a NASCAR race. Even a change from sunny to cloudy conditions can affect the way that the cars handle when motoring around Daytona International Speedway at speeds over 200 mph," AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer Brian Lada said.
On Thursday evening, qualifying races for the Daytona 500 were delayed as a rain shower moved over the area just as drivers were getting in their cars.
"While mainly dry weather is expected across the Daytona area on Saturday, just in time for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, a stray shower or two cannot be ruled out," Lada said.
"The green flag is set to fly at 2:30 p.m. EST with temperatures right around the 70-degree mark," Lada added. This is a seasonable high for the time of year.
For the big race on Sunday afternoon, there will be a mix of clouds and sunshine overhead with temperatures in the middle 70s.
Similar to Saturday, a stray shower or two that can prompt a delay can occur at any time during Sunday's race.
Fans will want to bring along rain gear, along with hats and sunglasses.
"If the Daytona 500 goes into overtime and carries over into the evening hours, the thousands in the grandstands can expect temperatures to settle in the 60s F under mainly cloudy skies," Lada said.
While temperatures may be comfortable for fans, drivers will endure stifling conditions inside their vehicles.
"It's usually about 30 to 40 degrees [Fahrenheit] hotter inside the car than the outside ambient temperature," David Ragan, a former driver in NASCAR's premier division, told AccuWeather in 2018. "We don't have air conditioners inside our race cars."
Elsewhere across the Southeast, dry and seasonably cool conditions will be the theme through the weekend, which is good news for areas that have been ravaged by river flooding.
The next opportunity for widespread rainfall across the South will come with a storm system during the early and middle part of next week.