BROOKLYN, Mich. – The 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway was rained out Sunday. That's about the only simple thing that can be said about the impact weather could have on NASCAR's top series.
The race was rescheduled for noon today (ESPN2), but the forecast is dismal. One online forecast put the rain chance at 80 percent at noon and 100 percent at 3 p.m.
NASCAR has never run a Cup race on a Tuesday after postponements on two previous days. The last time a race was rained out two straight days was on a Sunday and Monday in 1997 at Talladega, Ala. That race was moved several weeks later.
But there are no open weekends left on this year's Nextel Cup schedule.
"First, we will do everything we can to get the race in" today, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Beyond that, we would look at Tuesday, and possibly at Wednesday."
"If the race can't be completed this week," he said, pausing, "the race would be moved to Thanksgiving week, probably that Friday."
That would be Nov. 23, in Michigan -- albeit southern Michigan.
"And," Poston said, "according to the rulebook, the Chase field is comprised of the top 12 after the first 26 events and the Chase is comprised of the final 10 races."
That would make New Hampshire on Sept. 16, not Sept. 8 at Richmond, Va., the 26th race and the cutoff for the Chase.
A rescheduled Michigan race would be the 10th race in the Chase, supplanting Homestead-Miami Speedway as the season finale.
Tuesday's forecast for this area, however, is somewhat more promising.
There were a few developments unrelated to weather.
Ricky Rudd confirmed he has told team owner Robert Yates he will not return as a full-time Cup driver in 2008. Rudd left full-time competition after the 2005 season, then returned to drive the No. 88 Ford for Yates this year.
Rudd said he's glad he came back because he believes this season will eliminate any second-guessing he might have had. He wouldn't rule out a part-time schedule with a strong team, but he's not actively pursuing such an opportunity.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. President Max Siegel said he doesn't know what to say to fans about not being able to work out a deal with Hendrick Motorsports to let Dale Earnhardt Jr. take the No. 8 with him for 2008.
"Hopefully five years from now, people will be saying nice things about DEI," Siegel said. "I am not interested in getting into any personal discussions about Dale vs. Teresa. Dale Jr. knows exactly how I feel about the situation and about him.
"The reality is when you have any set of negotiations, the best you can do is have open dialogue. I have been open and very transparent with him. ... It was a very complicated situation. ... The emotional charge of this whole situation tells you how complex the discussions are."
Siegel reiterated DEI will field a team using the No. 8 next year.
"If we didn't have plans to run the 8 we wouldn't have gone through this whole exercise," he said.
He said the team is a week or two from announcing its full driver lineup for 2008, which will include four sponsored teams.
AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Forecast: 80 percent chance of rain at noon and 100 percent at 3 p.m.
|14.||1||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevy||186.746|
|41.||70||Johnny Sauter||Chevy||own pts|