Weather forecasts generally have not been friendly to NASCAR since the sport returned to live racing last month. This is what happens when races that can't be run in the rain are rescheduled for June, when pop-up storms and rain showers are common, especially in the southeast.
That's the location for the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., where pop-up storms were predicted to threaten the race Sunday throughout the afternoon and early evening. They did just that before the race even had a chance to begin. Eventually, the Geico 500 was postponed to Monday at 3 p.m. ET on Fox.
Sunday's race at Talladega was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET with a green flag time of 3:24 p.m. ET, but lightning strikes near the track delayed all pre-race operations and forced those on site, including 5,000 fans, to take shelter. The weather never let up from there.
Below are the moments that led to NASCAR's decision to postpone the race.
NASCAR race weather updates
MONDAY, JUNE 22: Scattered storms are once again in the forecast ahead of the Geico 500.
The race, which is scheduled to begin Monday at 3 p.m. ET, only needs to reach the halfway point at Lap 94 to be considered official.
11:40 AM ET @TalladegaSuperS update: Radar shows storms developing across western AL & eastern MS. Will be monitoring w/@NASCAR_WXMAN w/green flag in less than 4 hrs - Marginal risk for severe storms, primary risk: 60+ mph wind gusts pic.twitter.com/nZ0aFCobWO
— RaceWeather - Aaron Studwell, Ph.D. (@RaceWeather) June 22, 2020
Just talked with @RaceWeather to coordinate the forecast - not optimistic. Odds of RACING 40-50% - WHY?
No lights as well as drying time...
Widely Sct'd Rain/Storms between 3-7 pm local time. Some storms could be strong to severe. #NASCAR @TalladegaSuperS
— Brian Neudorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN) June 22, 2020
SUNDAY, JUNE 21: According to weather.com, the chances of rain in the Talladega area were around 60 percent throughout the afternoon and early evening, which is typical for a region in which pop-up storms are common in June.
Another issue was lightning in the area. NASCAR at 2:35 p.m. ET announced it had to delay activity at Talladega before the start of the race because of a lightning strike near the track. NASCAR has a policy that states all action must pause for at least 30 minutes for a single lightning strike within eight miles of the facility. More lightning strikes occurred around 3:10 p.m. ET and continued through 4 p.m. ET.
— Tab Boyd (@Spotter_Tab) June 21, 2020
Shortly before 3 p.m. ET, rain started falling at the track. The wind was strong enough that one of the pit road boxes reportedly collapsed under the conditions. Because of the rain, the track was lost around 3:10 p.m. ET, meaning it would need to be dried before the start of the race.
At 4:27 p.m. ET, the lightning hold was lifted, and track drying efforts continued despite the threat of another storm cell approaching from the west. A new lightning hold was placed at 4:56 p.m. ET. At 5:02 p.m. ET, NASCAR officials said they had lost the track yet again due to more rain.
Going to need some help for the cell to the west to miss. If it hits, would be postponed to Monday. pic.twitter.com/vQ1brakT20
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 21, 2020
There were two issues with the rain at Talladega when it came to getting Sunday's race completed on schedule. One was the size of the track; the massive, 2.5-mile oval takes at least an hour and a half to dry, especially in relatively high humidity.
The other issue was the fact that Talladega Superspeedway does not have lights. Sunset in the area was predicted to come at 7:58 p.m. local (CT) time.