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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR unveils its new track-drying system - the Air Titan - this season and it is at Daytona International Speedway. It could make its debut today.

The Daytona 500 is under threat of rain.

DAYTONA 500: Complete coverage

Some forecasts are calling for 40% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Oscar nominated actor James Franco will give the start-your-engines call. Ray Lewis is set to wave the green flag at 1:29 p.m.

Last year's Daytona 500 was the first to be delayed a day by rain. When it finally started on a Monday night, it was delayed for two hours because of a massive fire sparked by Juan Pablo Montoya's collision with a jet dryer as it removed debris under caution.

While jet dryers still will be used to blow debris off the track, there is hope the Air Titan eventually will be used for the same purpose.

The new technology, which is designed to reduce track-drying time by 80%, was designed by NASCAR's R&D Center in conjunction with outside companies.

NASCAR vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell estimated Daytona's 2.5-mile oval could be dried in 30 minutes.

"I think we want to see how it goes," O'Donnell said earlier of the system that is in 'Phase I'. "Keep in mind that this has never been tested during a race or during full rain conditions at a track, so we've still got some work to do once we see it, if we do see it in play, and we'll learn from there and make sure we've got the best model going forward possible for other tracks."

O'Donnell said the system is ready to be deployed at any track, but NASCAR still is making tweaks to how the Air Titan is powered. The system relies on 17 diesel-powered air compressors to push water to the apron, where it is vacuumed by a sweeper truck.

"There are still some challenges there and some logistical challenges depending on where we're racing," he said. "We've got some relationships to develop for the racetracks, and once those are in place, we feel confident that we'll get there. The priority for us is our racetracks and our fans, so we'll obviously deploy it to every track as soon as we can."

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