DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—The Daytona 500 went green on its scheduled date for 53 consecutive years.

Then came last year, when it was postponed from Sunday afternoon to Monday night because of steady rain.

Now, Daytona International Speedway officials have at least one eye on the weather forecast again, hoping to avoid a similar result Sunday for the 55th annual Daytona 500.

The forecast is more promising than the one a year ago, but it’s far from perfect.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures in the mid-70s with a 54 percent chance of rain throughout the day. It’s expected to be mostly cloudy when it’s not raining.

The forecast for Monday is a 40 percent chance of rain.

The green flag is scheduled for 1:29 p.m. Sunday, so NASCAR has plenty of time to get the race in if it's just a scattered shower or two.

NASCAR also has a new track drying system, still in its infancy, available for the race. While not perfected, the new vacuum-based system could dry the track in about an hour instead of more than two hours it typically takes at Daytona.

Once the season-opening Sprint Cup Series race begins, history will be made as Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to start on the pole for a Sprint Cup race.

For the race to be official, 100 of the scheduled 200 laps must be completed.

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