When there is rain in the forecast, chances are the NASCAR race won’t happen. While disappointing for fans who were getting ready for the race, ultimately, the decision not to race comes down to the safety of the drivers. However, there are instances where the race will continue in the rain, usually in a road course race or with rain tires, which the post will get into later on.
So, why do NASCAR Series Races typically don’t continue during rainstorms? What happens if it starts raining during a NASCAR race? How do rain delays work in a NASCAR Cup Series? How often did rain impact the 2020 NASCAR season?
Here is the complete breakdown of NASCAR series races in the rain.
Why NASCAR Cup Races Occur in the Rain
There have been plenty of races in NASCAR’s history that occur in the rain, but most of the time, the race will postpone if the weather gets bad. Some famous races in the wet weather racing conditions include the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race, Henry 180, Daytona International Speedway in 2020, Daytona 500, and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. These races continued in the wet weather, adding another element to an otherwise exciting race day.
When the weather doesn’t impact the road circuit, tires can change along with windshield wipers mounted to the car. However, most NASCAR oval tracks will delay or postpone the race when inclement weather occurs.
Why NASCAR Cup Races Usually Don’t Occur in the Rain
There are many reasons why the NASCAR Cup Series races tend not to drive in wet conditions. While there are instances where races occur in the rain, the competition will often go into delay. If the weather doesn’t get better, then the race will continue later or start the next day.
Here are some reasons why NASCAR races don’t occur in rainy conditions.
The Track is an Oval
Since NASCAR tracks are oval, a rain shower makes road racing difficult. For example, a stock car driving might hit a puddle on the track or lose a bit of grip on a turn, which can cause cars to slip when driving. With the course being an oval, the tires are built to handle left turns at an angle, which can cause problems if there are wet spots on the track.
The Safety of the Drivers
NASCAR drivers driving in the rain is dangerous to them and the other drivers. Even with windshield wipers and rain tires on the car, a downpour can make it difficult for the driver to see the track and other vehicles. With stock cars driving at top speeds, crashes increase with the wet weather.
Not only is it hard to see other drivers and the track in the rain, but the conditions are slick. Any bump from another car can cause multiple car crashes since it is more difficult to gain traction on a wet track.
What Flag Represents Wet Weather Conditions?
When the weather gets so bad that drivers can’t see, or the race track conditions are unsafe for the drivers, the red flag starts waving to signal to stop racing. Red flags could also occur due to a crash, but either way, the red flag alerts all drivers that the race is not in suspension. The crew chief can also radio into the driver to alert them of the red flag condition if the visibility is hard to see that flag.
Depending on the wet conditions on the race track, air titans will come out to dry and quickly dry the race track.
Standard NASCAR Tires are Not Good in the Rain
Standard Goodyear NASCAR tires are built for oval racing on the racetrack. Oval racing means they have a smooth tread to help grip the track and don’t do well on a wet surface or go over puddles. That means that if the race car is going at 200 mph on a wet track, then hydroplaning can occur since the tires are not built for wet grip.
Rain Tires Aren’t as Good as Regular Tires
NASCAR does have rain tires that are built specifically for wet condition racing. NASCAR drivers and teams don’t like these tires because they run slower than regular tires due to the improved grip, so races tend not to use them.
However, during the 2020 Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, they had rain tires on the cars. Having rain tires was the first time a Cup Series had them for this event.
A Wet Infield is Unfair to Drivers
When we think of The Cup Series, we picture cars racing around the track during the competition. We don’t consider how the grass will be if it is wet, leading to competition problems during a race. If the infield is soggy, it can cause issues for the car to get out of if it goes on the grass. Any minor bump that sends a vehicle onto the grass can have difficulty getting back on the track, which creates an unfair advantage.
Don’t Want to Repeat History
NASCAR fans tend to point to the multi-car accident in the rain at the NASCAR All-Star Race (Winston) at Lowes Motor Speedway in 2001 as to why most rainy races don’t occur. While the race took off with the green flag waving to the start of the race, the conditions only worsened. Some of the most famous drivers to get into a car crash due to the rain were Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, and Jeff Gordon.
The race then went into a suspension and later had those drivers compete with their backup cars. Jeff Gordon won that race, but starting the race with the rain falling was not a good experience for the drivers or the competition.
How Much Did Rain Impact the 2020 NASCAR Season?
Rain was a big problem during the 2020 Cup Races in NASCAR. 60% of the races had some interference due to wet and stormy weather.
Conclusion: Can NASCAR Race in the Rain?
In summary, there are instances where NASCAR races will continue in the rain, but it is rare. Driving in the rain is dangerous and causes crashes, which the sport does not want to happen with its drivers. Typically speaking, most races will delay with wet weather and wait out the storm to start a race. If the race cannot begin due to the bad weather, the race will start the next day.