Rain delays start of NASCAR race at Atlanta

By PAUL NEWBERRY | September 4, 2011 | 9:30 PM EDT

Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer walks to the garage before the NASCAR Atlanta Sprint Cup AdvoCare 500 auto race, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — NASCAR's plans to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway took a blow when heavy rain returned just as the track was nearly dry.

NASCAR officials had been planning to bring the cars onto pit road at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, saying efforts to dry the track were nearly done after light showers. Just a few minutes later, the heaviest rain of the day drenched the 1.54-mile trioval. That means it will be several more hours before the race can begin, even if the storm moves out.

The problem is the forecast. Even heavier rain is forecast for Monday, and there's a good chance for more rain on Tuesday, so NASCAR desperately wants to get the race Sunday.

The outer bands of Tropical Storm Lee moved into the Atlanta area during the afternoon after pounding the Gulf Coast with more than a foot of rain.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — NASCAR is pressing forward with plans to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The start of the AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race was delayed by rain Sunday night. But the showers have stopped, the track is nearly dry and NASCAR officials plan to bring the cars onto pit road at 9:45 p.m. — more than two hours after the green flag was supposed to drop.

There's still no estimated time on when the race will actually begin.

Rain moved into the area during the afternoon from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Lee, which pounded the Gulf Coast with more than a foot of rain and was expected to bring severe storms to Atlanta on Monday.

With the forecast calling for heavy rains Monday, the race will likely have to be run on Tuesday if it's postponed.