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The Hottest Races In NASCAR History

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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As NASCAR takes on their one date at the Texas Motor Speedway, a lot of chatter has erupted on the internet in regards to the heat. The temperature predicted for the start of the race was 102 degrees Fahrenheit and is expected to climb as the day goes on leaving many fans to fear for the safety of the drivers, crew members, and fans in attendance alike.

That got us, here at the Daily Downforce, thinking: what are the hottest races, temperature-wise, in the history of NASCAR? Here are 5 of them:

2021 Ally 400

One of the more recent races on this list is NASCAR’s return to Nashville, which was met with a lot of fanfare. Though not the return to the Fairgrounds most fans were hoping for, many fans were still glad to see the unique intermediate concrete oval back on the NASCAR schedule. The problem, though, was that its scheduled date was set for late June. Now, I don’t live in the Nashville area but I do live in Tennessee and the temps in late June in my neck of the woods are blistering. Perhaps the biggest issue with the venue is that fans were not allowed to take coolers into the facility, which just seems torturous. The high temperature for that day was a suffocating 93 degrees.

1997 Gateway 300

On his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, Dale Earnhardt Jr. recounted a story with famous Xfinity Series driver, Robert Presley about this race which started at a stifling 94 degrees Fahrenheit with no breeze. Dale Jr. and the crew that worked on his late model car purchased a then-Busch Series car, slapped the number 31 on it with Mom & Pops sponsorship, and headed to Gateway to compete in the handful of races Jr. had on his schedule that year. The heat turned out to be a big problem as, at around only 50 laps into the race, Dale Jr. was so desperate to get out of his car (because he was “cooking”) that, when he saw Presley spinning coming out of turn-4, he intentionally ran into to him. Then, fearing that the car was not hurt to the point where he could officially retire from the race, he bashed it into the inside wall for good measure.

Dale Jr. would end up finishing the race in the No. 99 as a sub-driver who had to exit due to having gotten sick inside of the car. The race was so hot that it was shortened from 300 miles to 250 and would be run at night in the years that followed. The most tragic thing about this race is that two spectators died due to overheating. It’s a black day in the NASCAR history books, indeed.

2007 Sharp Aquos 500

2007’s fall Fontana race saw temperatures get up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. That had led to temps getting as high as 170 inside the car which left many drivers feeling uncomfortable. Jeff Burton said during an interview “It’s hot, it’s definitely hot. Hotter than we’d prefer,” citing conditioning being a key player in the race. Once the race was all said and done, Jeff Gordon stated that the fans who stuck around and dealt with the heat with them ought to be rewarded some sort of medal.

2019 Charlotte Roval

Another recent one to include on this list is the second running of the Charlotte Roval race. With temperatures surpassing 120 degrees inside the cars, Chase Elliott was able to move past Kevin Harvick late to take the victory. But it was the heat that was the real story here. Not the playoffs, not even the race winner, Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. It was the heat, the unbeatability inside the cars for the drivers and the spectators in the stands.

1998 NAPA Autocare 500

This is one of those races that shows just what a badass Ricky Rudd was in his day. Yes, the driver who had to tape his eyes open following an extremely scary crash at Pocono also had to battle the element of heat during the 1998 NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville. The temperature at the start of the race was around 93 degrees, blistering for sure and enough to make any driver feel more than uncomfortable. Heck, it was about that hot the year before at Gateway when Dale Jr. intentionally wrecked just to get out of the car. But that was with cool suits. Now, imagine that your cool suit malfunctions.

Back then, cool boxes inside of the car were not mandated. So, it was on the team to independently decide how to keep their driver cool. Ricky and his Rudd Performance Motorsports decided to try a dry ice method which froze up inside the car. He had no access to water and the fan inside his helmet stopped working. Inside the car, it was around 150 degrees. Despite this, Ricky Rudd went on to win the race in what is surely one of the hottest races in NASCAR history.

What do you think, Daily Downforce readers? What are some of the hottest races you can remember? Be sure to let us know on all of our socials and keep it right here for all the latest news and discussion stories in the world of NASCAR.

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts