NASCAR did a full lap on the dirt before giving up and trying again

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NASCAR did a full lap on the dirt before giving up and trying again


Dirt races are complicated. NASCAR knew it as this weekend’s race approached at Bristol’s new temporary dirt track, but they decided the risk of failure was part of the call and kept going. The series already found and fixed an unexpected problem earlier today, announcing shortened periods between mandatory warnings after training, shocking tire wear levels were revealed. Their next problem might not be that easy to solve.

It is raining for the races this weekend. Normally, this is a problem that NASCAR has seen enough to be easily resolved. Uneven charges and excessive banking mean that stock cars can’t really ride in the rain on ovals like they can on road circuits, so races are simply flagged and delayed until later in the day. week. On dirt tracks, however, the range of conditions is much wider than just “wet” and “dry”. Surfaces get looser or harder depending on the amount of moisture and rubber on the track, and maintaining optimum conditions is a difficult and time-consuming task, even when the rain is not falling from the sky. Worse, while moisture is fairly easy to add, drying tracks cannot be accelerated by jet dryers like it can on a paved surface.

When the rain arrived today, NASCAR implemented its dirt-specific plan: delay, then travel the surface with heavy “packer” vehicles (mainly Ford Crown Victorias, with a few trucks mixed in) to pack the surface more. closely. Next, run dirt late models (specially designed race bikes that have more in common with a production car than with other dirt cars) on the surface to test its race readiness. It went well and NASCAR established its qualifying heats for the Truck Series at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The race lasted a total of one lap.

The drivers of the later models seemed to approve of the surface, but their cars are much lighter than racing trucks and don’t have windshields. As the trucks started moving, the extra weight lifted up unprecedented amounts of mud, most of which immediately stuck to the windshields and grilles of the cars lying around.

The driving conditions were immediately untenable, so NASCAR threw up a red flag a lap later.

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Two full-time Cup Series drivers, Kevin Harvick and Bubba Wallace, were on the pitch for the first round, each starting near the back. Wallace’s on-board camera showed the extent of the dire conditions, which made sight of the car nearly impossible, and showed why NASCAR’s decision was so easy. Harvick, who had already dreaded racing in stock cars on gravel but changed his tune after doing his first laps on this track under better conditions yesterday, spoke to the media after the pass and offered a scathing review:

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The rain started to fall again shortly after the session was signaled, which could delay the qualifying heats of the Truck Series by a few hours. The Cup Series qualifying heats and the Truck Series race were scheduled for later in the day, but the qualifying races could be canceled to make room for the Truck Series race where the delay in rain drags on and the surface does not improve. not.

If NASCAR ever finds the surface, the Cup Series is expected to face the Bristol dirt track tomorrow afternoon. It’s one of the most anticipated NASCAR events in recent history, but it can’t go on if drivers can’t see out of their windshields.

Update (6:04 p.m. ET): All races in Bristol have been canceled for the day and all qualifying races have been canceled outright. Weather permitting, the Cup Series will be the first stock car class to race angrily on the new track at 4 p.m. ET tomorrow, and the Trucks will run a delayed race at 9 p.m. that night.

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