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Carl Edwards takes cover under an umbrella as he leaves the drivers' meeting before the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Kentucky Speedway at Sparta, Ky., Saturday. The rain forced the race to be postponed until Sunday at noon.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
SPARTA, Ky. - Rain Saturday night forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway until today.
The 400-mile event was rescheduled for Sunday at noon.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start on the pole in a Chevy alongside Carl Edwards' Ford.
It was the circuit's first postponement since last year's season-opening Daytona 500. The marquee event ran the following night for the first time in its history.
Sunday's rescheduling creates the first day Cup race for the 1.5-mile oval after two events at night.
Showers were forecast all day around the state, which arrived around mid-afternoon with a heavy downpour followed by sporadic rain. NASCAR delayed the start and held out hope for a late start with jet driers on the track, but another band of rain led officials to postpone the race just after 9 p.m.
"We knew it would be touch-and-go and from early in the morning we were tracking the weather," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We dispatched the driers and they stayed out ahead of it, but the weather cells never did move out of the area and they looked like they would linger.
"It's a 90-minute to two-hour window with the best of conditions, and once it reached around 9 p.m. and it was still raining and in the forecast, we made the decision we thought was best."
Kentucky coach Calipari to drive pace car
SPARTA, Ky. - The only thing threatening to keep Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari from driving the (fast) lane before Saturday night's NASCAR race was rain.
Initially slated to ride shotgun as the honorary pace car driver for the 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, Calipari was asked to drive the Ford Fusion leading the 43-car field to the green flag.
Calipari agreed and received crash-course instruction from Cup driver Kurt Busch, whose 90-mph splits in the rain around the 1.5-mile oval had the coach "white-knuckled" and holding on tightly on the passenger side. Fortunately for Calipari, he only has to drive a more comfortable 45 mph ahead of the field.
"I just want the rain to clear so I can get out there and do a couple of laps," Calipari said.
Besides instruction from the 2004 Cup champion, Calipari got a specially-made racing jacket embroidered with the terms "eight-time" - referring to Kentucky's eight national championships - and his trademark "Refuse to Lose" slogan. Drivers also signed the jacket, which will be auctioned for charity.
"I did it like a driver would have," he said.
Calipari seemed happier at the prospect of being an active participant in NASCAR, a sport Calipari said he has followed since his days at the University of Massachusetts. The process involved going on the thrill ride of his life.
"When I went 45 (mph), I wasn't nervous," Calipari said, "but when he (Busch) was going 90 and 100 (mph) in that rain, all these grooves are great, I'm thinking, 'Oh, my gosh.'
"I had one arm on the mirror grabbing it, and the other hand was on the window. He was flying, for me. These guys are used to it, but it was fast. And it was raining."
EGR crew relishes return
SPARTA, Ky. - Mark Jacobs and Lorin Rainer arrived to work the NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway more energized than usual.
Being home for a change tends to have that effect for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew members with Kentucky roots.
Rainer, a Prestonsburg native, is the spotter for Jamie McMurray's No. 1 Chevy. His father and grandfather owned cars in Sprint Cup and ARCA, driven by such NASCAR greats as Buddy Baker and Bobby and Davey Allison.
Jacobs, who flew in Saturday for jackman duties on Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42, was a defensive tackle for the University of Kentucky, earning two degrees and four letters.
Having seen the track evolve from a concept to being on NASCAR's premier circuit, the EGR teammates are more determined to succeed being in familiar surroundings on its biggest weekend.
"It's really cool being here," the 48-year-old Rainer said before the race was postponed until Sunday because of rain. "Growing up, my father used to say this tri-state area (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) would be a perfect place for a track. I was thinking about that today as I was driving in, and I wish dad could've seen this."
"Some markets we go to, people aren't into the racing as much," Jacobs, 36, said. "But everybody here is fired up to be here and excited about it. Plus, I see a lot of people wearing UK stuff.
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