If you're headed to the Daytona International Speedway for the annual Daytona 500 today you might need to bring an umbrella and a poncho. And that's only if you're allowed in at all.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected in the Daytona Beach area this afternoon. As a result, NASCAR might be inclined to delay the start of the big race if conditions get too difficult.
Last year's Daytona 500 had to be postponed just 20 laps into the race. It was concluded the following day with Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing pulling out the victory.
The 2021 Daytona 500 is expected to seat 30,000 people at the legendary racing venue. Such a crowd would be the biggest for a sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
Fortunately, Daytona International Speedway can seat well over 100,000 people. Maintaining a good social distance shouldn't be too much of an obstacle there.
NASCAR's brass is working to ensure that the big race can go on with as few risks as possible.
Speaking to the media this week, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said he was looking forward to the sport maintaining its growth even in these uncertain times.
"As we head into 2021, I'll try not to look into the past too much, as extraordinary as 2020 was for all of us, 2021 we've got real excitement as we head into this season, probably more excitement and more wind at our back than we've had in decades," Phelps said, via 247Sports. "That's gratifying, feels good. We need to make sure that as a sport we continue to pour gas on the growth of this sport. It's important."
To that end NASCAR has "done a little tweaking" to the way things are usually done. But he's confident that they can pull it off as normal.
"Drivers, they already have PPE, their fire suits, their helmets, gloves, all of it. It's different than other sports," he said. "Same with the crew members, our officials. It's outdoors. All kinds of things that are positive. I think for us, just to kind of pivot away from that a second, for 2021 it's going to be largely the same.
"We've done a little tweaking here and there, but for the most part it's the same. If it didn't work, we'd do something different. But I believe it worked, so we're going to stay with the protocols that we had."
The Daytona 500 begins at 2:30 p.m. EST and will air on FOX.