By Jeff O'Brien

NASCAR’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway was washed out and rescheduled for Monday because persistent rain backed the series into too tight of a window to run as scheduled.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 03: The Toyota Track Drying Team works on the track prior to the 53rd annual running of the YellaWood 500 NCS race on October 3, 2021 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The race was initially delayed almost two hours and NASCAR made one attempt Sunday at starting the 500-miler. But it began to rain again as the cars circled the 2.66-mile superspeedway behind the pace car.

Talladega does not have lights — the Xfinity Series race on Saturday ended six laps early because of impending darkness — and the lengthy delay meant NASCAR would flirt with sunset if it even started the race. Talladega’s 500 miles average a 3 hour, 41 minute runtime and NASCAR does not like to start a race unless it expects to run to completion.

Early weather reports called for rain in Alabama on Monday, as well. Same for Tuesday and part of Wednesday.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 03: The cars are brought back to pit road prior to the 53rd annual running of the YellaWood 500 NCS race on October 3, 2021 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. The race has been postponed until Monday due to weather. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Talladega marks the middle race of the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs, with the hybrid road course/oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway scheduled as next week’s elimination race. The field of 12 playoff drivers will be whittled to eight at The Roval, and only Talladega pole sitter Denny Hamlin already has earned a berth into the third round.

Drivers have been on edge headed into Talladega because of the unpredictability of the 2.66-mile superspeedway and the risks of pack racing. Both the Truck Series race and Xfinity Series race doubleheader on Saturday were crash-marred and won by non-playoff drivers.

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The Cup drivers don’t want the same aggressive racing because one wrong move can trigger a championship-ruining wreck.

“I’m going into a superspeedway race below the cutoff line, so it’s definitely a stressful weekend,” Alex Bowman, ranked 11th out of 12 drivers, said Sunday. “We’re going to race to win, right? That’s our game plan.”

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 03: The cars are brought back to pit road prior to the 53rd annual running of the YellaWood 500 NCS race on October 3, 2021 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. The race has been postponed until Monday due to weather. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NASCAR was in early discussions on how to mitigate crowd ambiance after spectators at Talladega on Saturday chanted an expletive directed at President Joe Biden that was picked up on air during winner Brandon Brown’s interview.

The race winner typically stops on the frontstretch to collect the checkered flag and then do a live interview. The chants Saturday at Talladega, where a convoy of trucks and motorcycles waved Confederate flags as they paraded past the main entrance on Speedway Boulevard, could be heard over Brown’s interview.

Ideas being discussed were to move the interview away from the grandstand fence in an effort to diminish the ambient noise.

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