NASCAR Prepping for Potentially Rainy Weekend at Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen Rain

Getty A crew member stands in the rain at Watkins Glen.

The top three series in NASCAR return to action on Aug. 7-8 following a two-week break due to the Olympics. The fans are ready to see the drivers take on Watkins Glen International, but they have concerns about the weather. The current forecast currently calls for potential rain on both days.

According to AccuWeather, there is a 51% chance of rain and a high of 85 degrees on Saturday, Aug. 7. There is also a 31% chance of thunderstorms. Sunday’s prospects are more favorable with a potential high of 86 degrees and only a 30% chance of rain at the New York road course. Fortunately for the fans and drivers, there will be opportunities for the races to continue barring any lightning in the area.

As a road course race, the teams will have access to rain tires in case of inclement weather. If NASCAR deems them necessary, the drivers will head out onto the track with their windshield wiper and their wet weather tires. The 37 competitors will then strive to turn in strong performances while avoiding any incidents on the seven-turn course.


Rain Caused Several Issues at a Previous Road Course Race

COTA Rain

NASCAR Cup Series drivers race at Circuit of the Americas.

While NASCAR teams have access to rain tires on road courses, there is a limit to how far they can go in inclement weather. A fitting example is the first-ever Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas outside of Austin, Texas.

The top drivers in stock car racing headed to the road course on Sunday, May 23. The first two stages of the race featured rainfall and some frightening crashes involving Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, and Martin Truex Jr. These incidents brought out the caution flag and led to comments from the drivers about the lack of visibility and some considerable safety concerns.

The race continued after the rain lightened, but the drivers did not complete all of the scheduled laps in the final stage. The weather intensified as Chase Elliott tried to stretch the fuel in his gas tank and remain ahead of teammate Kyle Larson. NASCAR officials ultimately waved the red flag amid heavy rainfall and decided to end the race, declaring Elliott the winner.


NASCAR Made Rule Changes for Road Course Races After COTA

Following the wreck-filled road course race at COTA, NASCAR made alterations to its rules for future dates on the schedule. The sanctioning body began requiring two blinking lights installed on the rear window of the vehicles during damp and wet-weather starts.

According to Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, the previous rule required race teams to install one blinking light on the rear of the car. The new version forced teams to one light in the top left corner and the other in the top right corner. The pit crews will only activate these lights during rainy conditions at road courses.

In addition to altering the rules with the goal of improving visibility, NASCAR continued to experiment with rain tires. One particular test sent Team Penske’s Joey Logano and other drivers to Richmond Raceway, one of the most popular short tracks on the circuit. During this session, the group experimented with various setups and even tested out mud flaps on the stock cars.

As Logano told media members, they didn’t quite find the perfect setup for future road course races in the rain. The rain tires improved grip but sprayed water into the air. The slicks had limited spray but no grip. The mud flaps improved the spray slightly but still created visibility issues.

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