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NASCAR Daytona 500: Tornado-Warned Cell Passes Within Miles of Track During Race

February 24, 2014

NASCAR's Daytona 500 race at Daytona International Speedway had close call Sunday as a tornado-warned cell passed within 6 miles of the track after the race had been halted for a separate, weaker thunderstorm that had popped up overhead. But teams were back in action by 8:30 p.m, according to a tweet by the Daytona International Speedway.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for parts of northern Volusia and southern Flagler counties at 2:19 p.m. and 2:32 p.m., respectively, shortly after a red flag had been hoisted at Daytona due to rain on the track. 

The ensuing rain delay lasted over six hours, during which a rebroadcast of last year's win by Jimmie Johnson duped a lot of fans. 

Johnson was hailed as the Daytona 500 champion all over the place Sunday — he was trending on Twitter and even had friends congratulating him via text message — despite the race being in a rain delay.

Showers halted the race after 38 laps. Fox Sports responded by showing a replay of last year's season opener, the one in which Johnson won his second 500 and Danica Patrick made history by becoming the first woman to lead laps in "The Great American Race."

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Fox ran a crawl across the bottom of the screen, saying the 2013 race was being shown while Sunday's race was being delayed because of rain. But thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people failed to get the message.

"I hear I won the #Daytona500?" Johnson posted on Twitter. "Haha! I also have friends confused and texting congratulations to me."

Fellow drivers had fun with the widespread error, too.

"Wait a minute! I'm confused, did @JimmieJohnson win or not?" Clint Bowyer tweeted.

Plenty of fans on Twitter were confused throughout the replay, tweeted along as if the race was live. Deadspin ran some of them under the headline, "Scores Of Idiots Don't Realize Fox Is Airing Last Year's Daytona 500."

Even NASCAR couldn't resist jokingly weighing in on the confusion.

"Congrats @JimmieJohnson amazing," tweeted Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations.

O'Donnell didn't stop there, either, taking another playful shot about 45 minutes later.

"For those in media center getting impatient @JimmieJohnson should be wrapping up his victory lane ceremony shortly," O'Donnell tweeted.

Leave it to racing fans to take a difficult situation and make it fun. 

Here is more on the event from social media as it happened. 

Race fans take cover from the rain in the stands during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.,. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


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