The ARCA Menards Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series will all be in action this weekend with races at Talladega Superspeedway. There are rising concerns among NASCAR fans ahead of the packed schedule due to the forecast. The current outlook creates doubts that the Saturday races will take place as planned.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, the National Weather Service forecast does not bode well for the ARCA Menards and Xfinity races. The temperatures will be in the 70s, and there will be an 80-99% chance of rain in the morning. The risk of inclement weather continues into the afternoon with a 60% chance of rain. Talladega Superspeedway does not have lights, so the races could not move to the evening.
Sunday’s forecast, on the other hand, sets up a packed afternoon of racing. The temperatures will once again be in the 70s, but there is a 0% chance of rain at the track. The Geico 500 will take place shortly after 2 p.m. ET, and the drivers should have the opportunity to complete all 188 laps under partially cloudy skies.
The rain caused delays during 2020’s trip to Talladega
The Cup Series dealt with multiple weather-related delays during 2020’s Geico 500. An estimated 5,000 fans headed to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, June 21, but they did not witness any racing. Heavy rainfall and lightning in the area forced an initial delay. Though NASCAR ultimately made the call to push the race to Monday, June 22.
The Cup Series drivers officially began the Geico 500 on the afternoon of June 22 and completed most of Stage 1. However, more rain fell and brought out the red flag after only 57 laps. The delay, which NASCAR said lasted 58 minutes, kept the drivers out of their cars until 5:05 p.m. ET, but they ultimately fired the engines once again.
With the weather no longer causing an issue, the driver completed the remaining laps at Talladega Superspeedway. Ryan Blaney raced to victory lane while five other drivers headed to the garage early due to crashes. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took second place, finishing a mere .007 seconds behind Blaney. Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones rounded out the top five.
Talladega can not host night races if the weather causes delays
There have been many discussions over the years among racing fans about the lack of night races at Talladega Superspeedway. The track does not have lights, so the races have to come to an end prior to sunset. Daytona International Speedway, by comparison, has lighting for night races. The Daytona 500 starts during the day and ends at night.
NASCAR could opt to install lighting at the fan-favorite track in order to hold the Geico 500 and other races after the sun sets, but the cost could pose an issue. According to a 2017 article on Fox Sports, adding lights could run “several tens of millions of dollars.” NASCAR would have to make a long-term investment in order to change the superspeedway.
Given the cost of making a major change at Talladega, the prospects of night races remain slim. For now, the racing fans will continue to hold out hope for favorable weather throughout the weekend in order to watch all three races.
Weather permitting, the ARCA Menards Series race takes place at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Xfinity Series race follows at 4 p.m. ET on Fox. The NASCAR action continues on Sunday and at 2 p.m. ET on Fox.