It seems like NASCAR has finally gotten tired of the rain after their two biggest races of the year have suffered from delays due to weather. It’s one of those things we as fans need someone to blame for, but the truth is it’s not really their fault.
Well, fans keep clamoring for them to edit the schedule to keep from visiting tracks with horrible weather at certain points in the year, but it seems like NASCAR has something else in mind. They are not actually trying to figure out how to race in the rain, but how they can race in light rain or just a wet race track like they do at road courses.
The idea is to do this on short tracks where the speed will be less volatile. NASCAR will be holding tests this Thursday at Martinsville.
Here’s what VP Steve O’Donnell had to say about it:
“I think the overall goal is anything we can do to speed up the drying process, regardless of the technology, to allow us to get back to racing more quickly is a benefit to the fans,” O’Donnell said. “We’re always trying to innovate, and you saw that with what we’ve done around the track-drying system and that’s worked out well. We’ve always looked at what’s the next iteration. If you’ve looked at what the teams have been able to do with more road racing coming into the fold, the idea of short tracks and could we work with Goodyear to find a tire that would allow us to get back to racing sooner under wet-weather conditions.”
“I think at this point, we’re not talking about if it’s actually raining,” O’Donnell said. “It’s more so, can we get back more quickly than the track being completely dry, which is what we require now. That’s part of the test, looking at where’s the limit, where we would feel comfortable for the drivers. We want this to be safe, so that will be part of this test — talking to the drivers, what are they comfortable with — then obviously talking to Goodyear and (director of racing) Greg Stucker and his team about how they feel and how the tire performs, what if any tweaks we could make to that tire coming out of Martinsville, so there’s a lot that we’re hoping to learn here in terms of grip levels. Each track is unique, so this is something we’ll have to look at for multiple venues.”
“Too early to tell, but I would say if this worked and we felt comfortable with it — and that would be both Goodyear and reaction from the drivers and teams — this is something we would look to implement as quickly as we could,” O’Donnell said. “We all know that if we can deliver a race on time or shorten those delays, that’s a benefit to the entire industry.”
This obviously isn’t going to be the saving grace for all the rain issues that will continue to plague NASCAR, but it’s a positive step. If this is successful then it would ensure that outside of a downpour, that racing would not be halted and that track drying would not take a prolonged time.
There are still a lot of arguments we can make about scheduling but in terms of making attempts at running under unsatisfying conditions, they seem to be trying. I think that this is a step in the right direction, it’s going to take baby steps to get to a point where rain becomes less of a detriment to events. It started with road courses, it’s now moving on to short tracks, and who knows if there is a possibility beyond this, but seeing this tells me that NASCAR will find it if there is.