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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 24, 2013 9:43 am

Overcast skies loom at Daytona 500

By DAN GELSTONAP Sports Writer

Could another Monday night Daytona 500 be in the forecast?

Overcast skies and the threat of scattered showers made for gloomy conditions at Daytona International Speedway.

The green flag is scheduled to drop at 1:18 p.m. and rain is in the forecast. Last year's Daytona 500 was plagued by rain, and the race was moved to Monday night for the first time.

The rain could mark the debut of NASCAR's new track drying system, the Air Titan. NASCAR said the device should reduce track drying time, perhaps up to 80 percent.

The machine pushes water off the track and onto an apron, where vacuum trucks will remove the remainder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow the Air Titan, drying all excess water left on the racing surface.

The track-drying trucks will not be on the track with other cars. Juan Pablo Montoya sparked a giant fireball in last year's race when he crashed into a jet dryer loaded with fuel.