NASCAR’s luck with weather doesn’t appear to be improving this weekend. Rain is in the forecast Saturday near Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Va.
The Cup Series is scheduled to race at 7:30 p.m. on FS1, but there’s a 60 percent chance of precipitation after 5 p.m. and thunderstorms are likely to continue into the evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Friday’s Xfinity Series race, the Cook Out 250, was postponed to Sunday at 12 p.m. on FS1 due to rain after the first 91 laps of the 250-lap race were completed.
The Cup Series race, Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, is a 500-lap event that could face a similar schedule change based on the forecast. The National Weather Service predicts a 90 percent chance of showers overnight Saturday, but Sunday’s forecast is mostly sunny with a 30 percent chance of precipitation in the morning.
NASCAR’s Bristol dirt race weekend was also recently impacted by weather near Bristol Motor Speedway. Cup and Truck series races were postponed to a Monday two weeks ago after rain and torrential flooding hit the track in Bristol, Tenn. and washed out scheduled events.
NASCAR is exploring options to reduce the impact of rain on it’s schedule. Competition officials recently conducted a rain tire test at Martinsville with drivers Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher and tire supplier Goodyear. The wet tires wouldn’t necessarily be used to race in the rain, but the thinking is that they could be used on a more damp track following NASCAR’s typical drying procedure that utilizes jet dryers and Air Titans to return to competition more quickly. The test was specific to short-ovals, but yielded positive reviews.
“I think they’ve got a good product that we could honestly start racing with right away if we needed to on these short tracks,” Larson said in a video he posted on Twitter after the test.
Competition officials were more hesitant about immediate use of the wet tires and did not provide a specific timeline for when they could be implemented.
“For now, it’s looking pretty positive but I caveat it all with we’ve got a lot of data to look through,” NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation John Probst told NASCAR.com.
For now, rain delays appear likely, and perhaps imminent this weekend at Martinsville. Check back here for weather updates and find more pre-race reading, including the starting lineup and weekend odds for the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, here.