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What Happens If It Rains at Talladega?

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What’s Happening?

This weekend, the NASCAR circus descends on Talladega Superspeedway in Central Alabama, but, rain is set to put a damper on an otherwise exciting weekend. Should Mother Nature deal a bad hand, what will NASCAR do at Talladega, a track without lights?

  • Talladega has two other major factors working against it this weekend regarding weather. One is a lack of rain tires, and the other is the overall size of the track.
  • Talladega is a slightly different beast than Daytona. As a result, the procedure used at Daytona, while similar, will not be exactly the same as Talladega.
  • Fans are excited for this weekend’s race, but, not necessarily the weather forecast. Fans hate when weather impacts race weekends, and this is one weekend that it may happen.

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Before Raceday

NASCAR’s ultimate goal is to get the race in on its’ scheduled date, and they will do whatever they can and will to make that happen. Due to both that goal and how much weather forecasts can change throughout a week and a weekend, NASCAR often waits as long as they can before making drastic changes to the schedule. Do not expect any NASCAR decisions on postponing the race until the day of.

What NASCAR can choose to do before race day is move the start time up by as much as 1 hour, but, there has to be at least 24 hours notice to do so. The “24 hours notice” idea is not a hard and fast rule, but, Bob Pockrass refers to it as an “Unwritten policy”. This is something NASCAR has done with races before in an attempt to give more time for the race to be completed, and the Nashville race in 2023 is an example of NASCAR pushing the start time up due to a bad forecast later.

What Makes Talladega Unique During Rain Delays

Talladega is a much different beast than other tracks on the schedule during rain delays. First off, since it is a superspeedway, rain tires are not an option. The track is also 2.66 miles long, the longest oval on the schedule. As a result, the track takes between 2 and 2 and a half hours to dry once the rain stops.

The track also has no lights, so, night racing is not an option. Realistically, NASCAR needs about a 5-6 hour window of daylight to complete a full race. If it rains in the middle of the race, there needs to be enough daylight left to get the race to the halfway point, making it an official race. However, NASCAR’s goal is to run the full race, and if they do not see a window to complete the full race, they likely won’t take it.

Sunset is 7:19 PM local time on Saturday and 7:20 PM local time on Sunday this week. NASCAR has cut it close with daylight before at Talladega, most recently in 2013.

Xfinity Race (Saturday)

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled to start at 3:00 PM local time on Saturday (4:00 PM ET). Currently, there is a 35% chance of rain for that race. There is also an ARCA Menards Series race scheduled for 11:30 AM local that day.

Moving the race up is likely not an option, but, a major rainstorm could wash out the race if it drenches the track. It’s tough to imagine NASCAR waiting too long with sunset scheduled for 7:19 PM, and track drying taking as long as it does. If the race does get postponed, then NASCAR has two options.

They can move the Xfinity Series race to Sunday, either before or after, the Cup Series race, but, with the Cup Series weather forecast uncertain, that may not be a good idea. In that instance, NASCAR may do what they did at Daytona and push the race to Monday morning/afternoon.

Cup Race (Sunday)

NASCAR has no scheduled on-track activity on Sunday aside from the Cup Series race. This gives NASCAR plenty of flexibility on Sunday, which they may need with rain chances between 60-80%. The race is scheduled for 2 PM Local time with sunset at 7:20 PM.

NASCAR can push the race up by at least an hour, so, that moves the start time up to 1 PM local, giving them over 6 hours to get the race in. However, with how long it takes Talladega to dry, NASCAR doesn’t have much room for error. The latest they can likely start the race is maybe 4:20 PM local, to give it a 3-hour window to finish. Track drying must start at 2:20 PM local at the very latest to complete a full race.

If the race gets postponed, NASCAR would likely move the event to Monday afternoon. The Daytona 500 was pushed to the late afternoon, but, Talladega would likely be much earlier due. In 2021, a postponed Talladega race was moved to Noon local the next day.

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