The first nighttime race in Daytona 500 history took place at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, February 27, 2012. The race had originally been scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. the previous day, but was delayed due to heavy and continuous rainfall. This was the first time in the race's history that the start had to be delayed more than just a few hours in addition to it being the first time the race was run after sundown.
Initially, the postponement delayed the race until noon on February 27, but the rain continued, forcing officials to delay the race's start time until later that evening. Because of this unusual racing schedule, 2012 also marked another milestone for NASCAR: the first prime-time television airing of the Daytona 500.
Though the race took place later than its originally scheduled time, viewers still tuned in; in fact, more people than normal ended up watching the 2012 Daytona 500. According to NASCAR, about 36.5 million viewers tuned in to the race, marking the second-highest viewership of any Daytona 500 race at that time. The 2006 Daytona 500 race, which had brought in about 37 million viewers, was the only one that had performed better with an American television audience.