Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International may provide a first for competitors and fans of the sport — racing in the rain. NASCAR announced last fall that, when the weather called for it, beginning in 2015, the top series would race in the rain at the road courses of Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen.
And why not? After all, Goodyear developed rain tires back in the 1990s, but after years of not needing them because of dry racing conditions at the road courses, eventually the tire manufacturer stopped bringing them to the track. The Nationwide-turned-Xfinity Series already runs in the rain on road courses when weather conditions call for it. That series ran in the rain for the first time in Montreal in 2008 and at least one other time more recently at Road America.
Rain tires were on hand for use earlier this season when the Sprint Cup Series raced at Sonoma, but fortunately, they weren’t needed.
There’s a slight chance of rain this weekend with the Sprint Cup Series and the Xfinity Series at Watkins Glen. So there’s a chance the Cup guys (and gal) will get a chance to race in the rain. I admit, though, I’m at least kind of hoping it doesn’t happen.
I guess it would be cool to see it happen the first time it happens, since it would be historic. But once it happens that first time, I’m pretty sure I’ll be done with it. I’m glad there’s only a 10 percent chance of rain Sunday, so I’m really pulling for that 90 percent chance of dryness.
When the then-Nationwide Series first raced in the rain at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal back several years ago, it was cool the first time. But after the “new” novelty wore off, it kind of became a bore.
Even with the extra care taken when making laps, there still are opportunities for wet-track laps to take on a competitive form — knowing just how far the car can be pushed before it slides right off the track, exactly when to switch back to dry slicks when the rain stops and the track goes through its gradual drying process, etc.
Competitive opportunities aside, I’m going off of what I witnessed in previous Xfinity Series races in the rain. Yeah, sure, that’s Xfinity and we’re talking Cup, here. Still, I’m going off what I have to go off of, and from what I remember from those soggy Xfinity races, the portions in the rain were about as exciting as sitting on my front porch and watching cars drive down the road in front of my house in the rain. For the record, that’s not something that blows my skirt up or splits my pants (attempt at a clever Lenny Kravitz #penisgate reference).
Okay, I’ll admit that I did get slightly amused the time Carl Edwards attempted to clean his windshield with a squeegee while driving during that Nationwide race in Canada. This time around though, windshield wipers are going to be a requirement so I don’t see a repeat of that comedic performance.
Maybe I’d like to see Sprint Cup cars in the rain in a competitive environment once, just so I can feel like I witnessed history in the making. After that, I’m pretty sure I’ll be done with it. So, maybe I’d like to get those rain laps in this weekend to get them over with. Then, I’m done.
I get it, running in the rain will allow NASCAR to get the race in on the day it’s scheduled. Folks have to go to work on Monday. But is it worth the cost of the quality of product?
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