Two of NASCAR‘s top series will be back in action on Saturday and Sunday at Richmond Raceway as part of a packed schedule. The Camping World Truck Series drivers will compete in the ToyotaCare 250 while the Cup Series drivers will fight for playoff spots in the Toyota Owners 400. Fortunately for NASCAR fans, the weather forecast sets the stage for a weekend free from weather delays.
According to AccuWeather, the temperatures at Richmond Raceway will be in the 60s on Saturday. There is a 0% chance of thunderstorms despite the presence of cloud cover. The favorable racing conditions continue on Sunday with temperatures in the high 60s and a 25% chance of precipitation.
The ToyotaCare 250 will take place on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. FS1 will provide coverage of the Truck Series race. The schedule will continue on Sunday with the Toyota Owners 400 at 3 p.m. ET. Fox will air the Cup Series race while Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, and Mike Joy provide the call.
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Rain has caused several problems in recent race weekends
Springtime races in NASCAR spark concern due to the location and the potential for weather delays. Several events have faced delays in recent years, including 2020’s season-opening Daytona 500. The 2021 schedule has dealt with similar issues.
The Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers headed to Martinsville Speedway last weekend for two important races. The Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 started on Friday but came to a halt midway through Stage 2. The rain stopped the race and forced NASCAR to move it to Sunday afternoon.
Similarly, the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Cup Series race started later than expected on Saturday night due to a rain delay, creating even more concerns about the weather. The drivers still fired up their engines and headed out onto the short track, but they only completed 42 laps. According to Yahoo! Sports, NASCAR made the decision to ultimately postpone the race to the following day after rain began to fall once again.
The doubleheader on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway faced similar delays the weekend of Mar. 27. A select group of Truck Series drivers headed out onto the dirt track for the first qualifying race but could only complete one lap due to mud caking the front of their vehicles. Rain began to fall, forcing NASCAR to push the race to the following day.
The weather-related delays continued on Mar. 28 as the rain continued to fall, flooding the track and the surrounding grounds. NASCAR made another schedule change, pushing both the Truck and Cup Series races to Monday afternoon.
NASCAR has experimented with rain tires on short, flat ovals
With the weather causing multiple issues in recent years, racing’s sanctioning body has explored the possibility of holding oval races during the rain. Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher took part in a test session at Martinsville Speedway in late March.
The forecast called for sunny skies the day of the race, so NASCAR dampened the racing surface. According to NBC Sports, chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said that the ultimate goal is to return to the track faster in inclement conditions.
“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,” O’Donnell told NBC Sports. “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.”
NASCAR uses rain tires and windshield wipers during the road course races, but the drivers are traveling at considerably slower speeds as they navigate the turns. Now there is a possibility that teams could use these Goodyear rain tires at such tracks as Martinsville, Richmond Raceway, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. However, O’Donnell clarified that competition officials would consider using the tires in damp conditions but not actual rain.
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