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How BAD Has Bristol Spring Weather Been?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR returns to a traditional venue this weekend, Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, Tennessee, but, many people are more worried about the weather than action on track. Bristol has a reputation for cold, dreary weather during its’ spring race weekend. Is that reputation earned, or are NASCAR fans overreacting?

  • For this article, we will look at the last 10 spring race weekends at Bristol both on concrete and dirt. How bad has the weather actually been at Bristol?
  • Bristol Motor Speedway’s spring weekend has drawn some bad weather cards before. In 2006, an Xfinity Series race was stopped thanks to a snow shower. Rain has pelted the Eastern Tennessee bullring during its spring date as well.
  • Fans are concerned about the weather this weekend at Bristol, as they are for many springtime races. Rain is aplenty across the country during the springtime, and NASCAR’s season is kicking into high gear at the same time.

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Bristol Motor Speedway Weather History

We recently compiled research on weather-impacted NASCAR Cup Series races from the past 10 seasons before 2024 in the article below. Out of the last 20 Bristol races, 7 of them have been impacted by weather in some form or fashion. That puts Bristol as the 2nd most weather-impacted race track in NASCAR, just behind Daytona.

Furthermore, springtime dates took the lion’s share of those races. A total of 5 of the last 10 (50%) spring races at Bristol have dealt with either a weather delay or weather postponement. Bristol’s last rain-shortened race came in the spring of 1996, which Jeff Gordon won.

The fear of bad weather at Bristol is far from an unfounded one. There is hard data out there that proves that this date at Bristol has a difficult time finding the sunshine.

It’s understandable why this is the case. Bristol’s location at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains combined with a date during one of the rainiest times of the year leads to Mother Nature dealing a bad hand.

As far as specific dates, Bristol races were delayed by weather in 2014, 2015, and 2018. Races were outright postponed in 2017, 2018, and 2021. All of these races have been held throughout late March or early April, so, moving the date around has not helped. Still, Bristol is on a solid streak with the dirt races in 2022 and 2023 both going off without a hitch, and, in 2024, NASCAR is implementing a new wet weather package to deal with bad weather.

2014Rain Delayed to Sunday night; ended under caution before OT could finish because of rain
2015Rain Delayed to Sunday Night
2016No Rain
2017Postponed to Monday
2018Postponed to Monday; 3 Cautions for rain throughout the race
2019No Rain
2020No Rain (Race in Late May due to COVID-19 Pandemic)
2021Postponed to Monday
2022No Rain
2023No Rain

The Wet Weather Package

NASCAR has slowly been working wet weather packages into the sport over the past decade or so. In 2023, they even designed a package for use in the damp on short tracks, and a version of that package is ready for use at Bristol in 2023. The package includes wet weather tires and a defogger.

Now, this doesn’t solve every problem. NASCAR won’t race in the rain with it, but, it will allow drivers to get back racing quicker after a potential rain shower.

We saw a version of this package used twice in 2023. Once in the Craftsman Truck Series at Martinsville and again during the All-Star Heat Races at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Bristol weather has indeed been as spotty as fans have advertised. Thankfully, there may be a way out of bad weather situations at Bristol.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts