Lightning & Rain Pose Problems for NASCAR Weekend in Atlanta

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Getty The forecast calls for thunderstorms at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Two of the top three NASCAR series return to Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 9-10, providing the drivers with another opportunity to take on the reconfigured track. However, there is the possibility of inclement weather disrupting both races.

According to AccuWeather, the forecast on Saturday, July 9, calls for temperatures in the low 90s during the day before they drop into the low 70s in the evening. The afternoon has an 80% chance of precipitation with a 48% chance of thunderstorms. The evening forecast calls for a 65% chance of precipitation and a 39% chance of thunderstorms.

The forecast calls for slightly better conditions on Sunday, July 10. The temperatures will be in the mid-80s during the day and the low 70s at night while there is a 48% chance of precipitation. Rain and lightning could cause some issues during the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart (3 p.m. ET, USA), but the forecast only calls for a 29% chance of thunderstorms.

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Rain & Lightning Delayed Another NASCAR Race

Atlanta Motor Speedway

GettyThe Cup Series drivers race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

If there are thunderstorms that bring out the red flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it will mark the second time in three weeks that there has been a weather delay during a NASCAR weekend. The first took place at Nashville Superspeedway.

The Cup Series drivers returned to action after the off-week and suited up for the Ally 400 on June 26. Denny Hamlin dominated the early portion of the race after winning the Busch Light Pole, but lightning strikes within an eight-mile radius forced a mandatory 30-minute stoppage on Lap 42.

The lightning delay lasted a little over an hour, but the officials ultimately gave the all-clear signal. The drivers returned to their stock cars and began racing once again, but they only reached Lap 139 before lightning struck and brought out the red flag.

The drivers headed back down pit road for the second delay, which ultimately lasted over two hours after heavy rainfall soaked the track. The Cup Series race resumed just after 10 p.m. ET, and Chase Elliott won after staying out during the final caution.

Rain Played a Role in Another Atlanta Race Weekend

Atlanta Motor Speedway

GettyKevin Harvick (right) won a rain-delayed race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2018.

One cause for concern is that rain has played a role in previous trips to Atlanta Motor Speedway. This includes the 2014 Great Clips 300 Xfinity Series race and the 2018 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Cup Series race.

The NASCAR officials knew that weather could disrupt the race in 2018, so they moved the start time up to 1:06 p.m. ET. This was an adjustment of 70 minutes, but it did not help. Heavy rainfall on the morning of the race delayed the start time by more than two hours.

The race began just after 3:32 p.m. ET as Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman led the field to the green flag. Busch won the pole, but Kevin Harvick turned in a dominant performance and won after leading 181 of the scheduled 325 laps. He held off Brad Keselowski, who led 38 laps.

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