NBC broadcasts its first NASCAR race of the season when the green flag drops at Daytona on Saturday night
For now, the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be the final NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway during Independence Day weekend. Next year, the race moves to late August. It's expected to be slightly less humid and NASCAR hopes there will be less rain.
It's been a rough start for the TV crew dealing with several weather-related delays. Qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was canceled Friday, despite it only raining a little on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Instead, a thunderstorm developed over the Pine Barrens west of the track and just hung out there. This storm had a decent amount of lightning with it, forcing NASCAR to stop operations, clear the grandstand and get people out of harm's way. That meant that inspection couldn’t be completed, cutting short on-track action for Cup.
The lightning policy may be frustrating for fans and viewers, but it isn't new; it's used at all International Speedway Corporation (ISC) tracks. The delay was triggered Thursday during practice, as well as last Saturday at Watkins Glen during the Tioga Downs 240 at the Glen for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Coke Zero Sugar 400
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Track: Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
TV: NBC, coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90
The cancellation of qualifying means that Joey Logano will start the race from the pole. Judging by his form in Happy Hour Thursday after the lightning vacated, that's not necessarily a good thing for the rest of the field.
Coverage from Daytona is scheduled to start with NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Countdown to Green will start at 6:30. At 7 p.m., Countdown to Green will move to NBC. Race coverage is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. with the green flag around 7:45. There's a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms in the forecast, though so that start time might be iffy.
If the race starts on time and isn’t interrupted by rain and/or lightning, there is also an edition of NASCAR America Post-Race scheduled for 11 p.m. That show will air on NBCSN but if there's a long delay, don’t bet on it.
Also of note, NBC Sports has Jesse Iwuji on-site this weekend as a guest analyst. He'll be learning the ropes of television. Watch for him to play a role similar to Ato Boldon's from last year, but with pre-existing knowledge of racing.