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Rain washes out Pocono race

Sunday, August 2, 2009 | 7:41 p.m. CDT
Crews stand with the cars of Tony Stewart, left, and Jimmie Johnson on pit row in a light rain Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. The NASCAR Pennsylvania 500 auto race was postponed until Monday by rain.

LONG POND, Pa. — Jimmie Johnson's White House visit will have to wait. So will the start of the Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Steady rain postponed Sunday's race and it has been rescheduled for 11:15 a.m. Monday.

Heavy rain hit the track Sunday morning. It let up about an hour before the scheduled 2 p.m. start and the sky brightened for driver introductions. The rain returned about 3:30 p.m. and soaked the surface again. There was light rain the rest of the afternoon, forcing the postponement.

There was also some concern about "weepers" — water that seeps up through the track following heavy precipitation on the triangle track. Pocono does not have lights and faced a time crunch to start the race.

"It's just kind of rough to endure it when you're here waiting for it to either rain more or rain less," Bobby Labonte said.

Johnson, the three-time defending Cup champion, was among a group of NASCAR drivers to be honored at the White House by President Barack Obama on Monday. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was going to be parked at the White House.

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the date of a future visit was being discussed with White House officials.

Rain also washed out qualifying on Friday, which automatically gave the pole to points leader Tony Stewart. Stewart lost his pole position and will start from the back of the pack after wrecking his car during Saturday's practice. He leads Johnson by 192 points in the standings.

Stewart won the Pocono race in June from the rear of the field after a similar practice wreck knocked him from the pole.

Drivers had to wait about 2 1/2 hours from the scheduled green flag before the race was called. It's the second postponement this year, following the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

"I just think being around another day won't be fun for anybody," Jamie McMurray said.

McMurray had been informed by Roush Fenway Racing that he can talk to other organizations about a ride for next season. Crown Royal has been with the team as sponsor for McMurray, who is in the final year of his contract. RFR officials have said they want to re-sign McMurray, but only if they can find additional sponsorship.

Crown Royal's sponsorship was moved to Matt Kenseth's car after Dewalt Power Tools said it would not return in 2010.

McMurray said on Sunday that two or three owners had already called him with good opportunities for next season.

 


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