Rain postpones Daytona 500, dampening event, Trump’s visit

Rain postpones Daytona 500, dampening event, Trump’s visit
Flags supporting President Donald Trump fly in the infield days before his appearance at the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Source: AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain for the first time since 2012.

The stoppage dampened NASCAR’s season opener that started with a ballyhooed visit from President Donald Trump.

The race was postponed after two lengthy delays totaling more than three hours.

The race will now begin at 4 p.m. Monday and be broadcast live on Fox.

It’s the second time in 62 years that “The Great American Race” will finish on a Monday.

The first delay came moments after the presidential motorcade completed a ceremonial parade lap around the 2 1/2-mile track.

The sky opened after Trump’s armored limousine nicknamed “The Beast" exited Daytona International Speedway.

Trump made a dramatic entrance hours earlier that set off a raucous celebration at the famed track.

He’s the second president ever to attend the Daytona 500 and has been given the honor of commanding drivers to start their engines.

He gave thousands of fans a flyover of Air Force One and then rode onto the track in the presidential motorcade as the audience roared with delight.

The motorcade took roughly a quarter lap before pulling aside in an infield staging area.

Trump’s reelection campaign plans to run an ad during the Fox broadcast of the race and fly an aerial banner near the speedway.

And Trump will soon be off and running as well with a Western state swing that will take him to rallies planned in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The trip is another demonstration of Trump’s willingness to campaign not just in conservative strongholds but in states that lean Democratic, particularly Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner faces a tough reelection battle.

Arizona is expected to be a key swing state in the presidential election with its growing population of Hispanic voters.

Trump is the second sitting president to attend the race. George W. Bush was the first. Like Trump, he also attended the race during a presidential election year.

Both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush visited the track, but during races other than the Daytona 500.

NASCAR drivers may drive toward the left on their trip around the oval racetrack, but their fans lean right, which helps explain the regularity with which GOP presidents have made their way to the track.

Trump’s dip into sports has been mixed. He was booed at the World Series in Washington, but cheered at the Army-Navy game and the national championship game between Clemson and LSU.

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