Following a wreck-filled weekend at Circuit of the Americas, NASCAR has unveiled a rule change that will impact the Xfinity Series at future road course races. The sanctioning body now requires two blinking lights installed on the rear window of the vehicles during damp and wet-weather starts.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, the previous rule required race teams to install one blinking light on the rear of the car during inclement weather races at road courses. The new rule tasks teams with installing one blinking light on the top-left corner of the rear window and the other on the top-right corner.
The pit crews will only activate these blinking lights in rainy conditions, with the goal of improving visibility. The rain and standing water at Circuit of the Americas created several issues for NASCAR teams during the Xfinity and Cup Series races. Several drivers specifically mentioned that they had little to no visibility at certain points of the afternoon events.
The Rule Currently Only Applies to Xfinity Series Teams
As Pockrass noted, the new rule only applies to the Xfinity Series as the drivers head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The forecast calls for a clear day of racing at the road course, but the drivers could encounter unforeseen rain. If so, they will follow the new guidelines.
The Cup Series also heads to a road course this weekend, albeit in a different state. Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, and their peers will take on Sonoma Raceway in California. There is a 0% chance of rain at the road course, so they will not have to worry about any visibility concerns or wet-weather starts. The Truck Series, on the other hand, is idle until June 12 when the drivers head to Texas Motor Speedway.
While the new blinking lights rule does not currently apply to the Truck or Cup Series teams, the situation could change in the coming weeks. NASCAR will travel to Road America in Wisconsin on July 4 weekend, a destination where the rain could become a factor. According to AccuWeather, thunderstorms can become an issue in Wisconsin throughout the month of July, which could force NASCAR to require multiple blinking lights on the Cup Series cars.
NASCAR Continues to Experiment With Wet-Weather Tires on Ovals
Earlier in the year, some drivers headed to Martinsville Speedway for a test on the oval. They drove around on wet-weather tires to see if it would be possible to race on short tracks in damp conditions and speed up the track-drying process. Following the wreck-filled race at COTA, Joey Logano and other drivers headed to Richmond for another round of testing.
The Team Penske driver and some of his peers drove around the short track with both slicks and rain tires while conducting experiments. They learned during the session that the rain tires had considerably more grip but that the tread from the tires shot water into the air and created visibility problems. The slicks, on the other hand, had no grip, but they also did not create any spray.
“I think we learned some things. It’s not as simple as we all think it is. Go figure, right?” Logano said, per Motorsport.com. “Everything is a little more complicated than it looks on the outside, but I think after COTA race the main thing was not the tire. The tire’s got pretty good grip, it’s about the spray, the mist. You can’t see the vision and that’s what we had to fix.”
In order to potentially limit the spray, Logano and the other drivers installed mud flaps on the rear of their stock cars. This method worked to a point, but it was not a perfect fix. Logano explained that the flaps mostly adjusted the spray and that visibility concerns remained.
The Cup Series season will continue with more tests in the future to improve the state of wet-weather racing. There is no obvious fix that will take care of every issue, but Logano explained that the goal is to get the drivers back out onto the track even in damp conditions so the fans don’t have to sit around watching Air Titans try to dry the racing surface.