DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Daytona 500 is under a red flag on Lap 38 due to persistent rain.
The field was circling under a caution when the skies opened up. NASCAR kept the cars on the track with the hope the rain would bypass, but when the showers continued the red flag was issued and the cars were parked on pit road.
Before the stoppage, Joe Gibbs Racing asserted itself as the team to beat, as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch each took turns out front. Both Hamlin and Busch are looking for their first Daytona 500 victory and the first for JGR in 21 years.
Assorted troubles have hampered a number of contenders early. Outsider pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. suffered terminal engine failure and immediately headed to the garage.
"I went to bed last night thinking that this was my best shot ever to win the Daytona 500," Truex said. "The car was just so good and we were just riding around and biding our time you know, being patient and trying to get to the end of this thing. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be."
Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had a vibrating rear-view mirror necessitating an additional pit stop. He currently is in 38th. Matt Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, spun when entering the pits and runs 27th. Both drivers are on the lead lap.