The top three NASCAR series, as well as the ARCA Menards Series, will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a stacked weekend of racing. There is always a concern about the weather ahead of races that start during the day and end under the lights, but the weather forecast calls for favorable conditions all three days.
According to the National Weather Service, Friday should be the hottest day with temperatures in the 90s under the sun and 80s at night. There is a 40% chance of rain. Saturday should be in the 80s with a 40% chance of rain, providing optimism about the qualifying sessions, the Xfinity Series race in the afternoon, and the ARCA Menards Series race in the evening.
Sunday, May 30, has the lowest percentage of rain (20%), creating optimism about an uninterrupted Coca-Cola 600 and 400 laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, the temperatures will be cooler as they drop into the 60s throughout the day.
The Weather Will Force Teams to Make Some Crucial Decisions
Racing in hot temperatures is nothing new for NASCAR drivers. They are used to dealing with conditions that test their bodies. However, the changing temperatures throughout the weekend will force the teams to make some decisions about their setups.
When the track and air temperatures drop, the stock cars’ handling changes. Similar situations happen when clouds move in during a race that started under sunny skies. Some cars handle better in the sun, but the clouds and cooler temperatures create handling issues.
Teams will have to take these factors into consideration when they prep the vehicles for the weekend. The Cup Series drivers, in particular, will practice on Friday, May 28, when the temperatures are the hottest. They will then take part in qualifying sessions the following morning under cooler conditions.
Once they head out to the track for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, they will contend with even cooler temperatures. Several pit crews will have to make adjustments to the cars throughout the race, making them tighter or looser in order to keep them running well and in contention for the checkered flag.
Preparation Will be Critical for the Qualifying Sessions
As one of the only races on the schedule with practice and qualifying, the drivers will have the opportunity to secure a prime starting spot for the respective races. However, they will not have quite as many opportunities to do so.
Unlike the race at Circuit of the Americas, there will not be a block of time where the drivers can make multiple trips around the track and shave seconds off of their times. According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, qualifying will be one lap. The drivers will have just one opportunity to post the best time and potentially win the pole.
Another change involves the number of cars on the track at a single time. When the drivers headed onto COTA for the qualifying sessions, they would have cars both in front and behind them. Now, however, the drivers will be alone out on Charlotte Motor Speedway while their peers watch from pit road.
The NASCAR weekend kicks off with a Truck Series race on Friday, May 28, at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Xfinity Series will highlight Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the ARCA Menards Series race at 7 p.m. ET. The Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race will cap off the weekend on Sunday, May 30, at 6 p.m. ET. Friday’s and Saturday’s races will air on FS1 while Sunday’s will air on Fox.