Mist, drizzle force NASCAR to postpone Cup race

NASCAR

FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR’s Cup Series playoff race in Texas was postponed Sunday night after 52 laps on a misty day that slowly deteriorated to a drizzle, and it never actually rained before the event was called off.

The delay was just over four hours, and the restart is planned for Monday morning. But the forecast isn’t promising with a 90% chance of rain overnight and the forecast high temperature barely reaching 50 degrees.

The pandemic-reduced crowd watched Clint Bowyer emerge as the leader with Jimmie Johnson second in the last Texas race as full-time drivers for both veterans.

The cars kept running for eight laps after the weather caution first came out as jet dryers circled the track. The cars sat uncovered on pit road for about half an hour before the tarps came out and the drivers and crews headed for cover.

It was fitting that Bowyer and the seven-time series champion Johnson were leading when the race was stopped. Both were honored before the race, with Victory Lane being named after Johnson. His seven Texas wins are the most on the 1½-mile, high-banked tri-oval.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named Johnson an honorary Texan. The 45-year-old is planning to run part time in IndyCar next year.

The 41-year-old Bowyer, a 10-time winner in 16 Cup seasons and twice a runner-up in Texas, plans to move into the broadcast booth next season.

“Jimmie and Clint are tremendous ambassadors of our sport, both on and off the track, so we wanted to do something special for their final time here,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said.

Martin Truex Jr. was moved to the back of the field because of an illegal spoiler, and crew chief James Small was ejected. But Truex, also fined $35,000 and docked 20 points in a blow to his championship outlook, was all the way up to fifth when the race was stopped.

Joey Logano is the only driver guaranteed a spot in the final four after winning the first of three qualifying races last week in Kansas. The last qualifier in the round of eight is next week at Martinsville before the championship finale in Phoenix.

Kevin Harvick, who has won the past three fall races in Texas and is a nine-time winner this season, is in the best shape among the other seven playoff contenders.

Harvick brushed the wall while leading on Lap 29 as the track conditions worsened and came away with some damage to his car’s right side. But the No. 4 Ford was running when the 334-lap race was halted, one lap down in 36th.

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