SPARTA, Ky. — Rain Saturday night forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway until noon on Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start on the pole in a Chevy alongside Carl Edwards’s Ford.
It was the circuit’s first postponement since last year’s season-opening Daytona 500. The marquee event ran the following night for the first time ever.
Sunday’s rescheduling creates the first day Cup race for the 1.5-mile oval after two events at night.
Showers were forecast all day Saturday around the state, which arrived around midafternoon with a heavy downpour followed by sporadic rain. NASCAR delayed the start and held out hope for a late start but officials postponed the race just after 9 p.m.
‘‘We knew it would be touch-and-go and from early in the morning we were tracking the weather,’’ NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. ‘‘We dispatched the driers and they stayed out ahead of it, but the weather cells never did move out of the area and they looked like they would linger.
‘‘It’s a 90-minute to two-hour window with the best of conditions, and once it reached around 9 p.m. and it was still raining and in the forecast, we made the decision we thought was best.’’
The delay was particularly disappointing to Mark Jacobs and Lorin Rainer. The duo arrived to work the race more energized than usual.
Being home for a change tends to have that effect for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew members with Kentucky roots.
Rainer, a Prestonsburg native, is the spotter for Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevy. His father and grandfather owned cars in Sprint Cup and ARCA, driven by such NASCAR greats as Buddy Baker and Bobby and Davey Allison.
Jacobs, who flew in Saturday for jackman duties on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42, was a defensive tackle for the University of Kentucky, earning two degrees and four letters.
Having seen the track evolve from a concept to being on NASCAR’s premier circuit, the EGR teammates are more determined to succeed being in familiar surroundings on its biggest weekend.
‘‘It’s really cool being here,’’ the 48-year-old Rainer said before the race was postponed. ‘‘Growing up, my father used to say this tri-state area [Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky] would be a perfect place for a track. I was thinking about that today as I was driving in, and I wish Dad could’ve seen this.’’
Jacobs, 36, is a 14-year NASCAR veteran who has worked here with teams since the track’s early years, mostly in the Nationwide Series. He played football for the Wildcats from 1995-98
‘‘Some markets we go to, people aren’t into the racing as much,’’ he said. ‘‘But everybody here is fired up to be here and excited about it. Plus, I see a lot of people wearing UK stuff.”