BUSCH: Daytona race red flagged for rain

The season-opening Busch race at Daytona International Speedway has been rained out. The race has been rescheduled, and action will now commence at 11:00 am Monday morning. The race will pick up at that time under red flag conditions at lap 32; in the meantime, the cars will remain impounded in the Busch series garage. Shocks and restrictor plates will remain on the car.

Cars aligned on pit road in the rain.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Not much action under green flag conditions happened during the part of the event that ran before a rainstorm hit the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The field was able to run ten laps before the big wreck happened on lap 11.

The multi-car pile-up came early in the event on just the eleventh lap, when Mike Bliss lost control and spun in the middel of the pack in turn two. All in all, seven cars were involved in the incident, including Johnny Benson, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Wally Dallenbach, Joe Nemechek, Jason Leffler and C.W. Smith.

As the Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on the severely damaged Chevrolet, Bliss commented, "I kind of moved up the track, got on high side and the rear tires unloaded real quick."

No driver injuries occured, Dallenbach took the worst hit -- head-on into the wall. The TV commentator and part-time NASCAR racer confirmed that he was OK, saying, "That was the hardest hit I've ever had."

During the series of following pit stops, the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth and the No. 46 of Ashton Lewis, Jr. made contact on pit road. Kenseth was forced to return to pit lane several times to make repairs to his Ford.

Johnny Benson in trouble.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made a 5.6 second gas and go pit stop after the lap 11 wreck, beating the field and assuming the No. 1 spot.

Rain then began to fall on lap 17, slowing the field. NASCAR continued continued to run the field around under caution until lap 31 when the race was red flagged and the cars were parked on pit road.

The first race of the 2004 season for the Busch Series will be shown Tlive on NT.