I am always excited when NASCAR heads road racing because it brings up subjects that are not talked about during what is a normal race weekend. What is interesting is that years ago, during the 1970′s and for part of the 1980′s, the NASCAR season began on the road course in Riverside, California, instead of the big race in Daytona. So there is a rich history for the sport in road racing, but these days it only happens twice a year.
Yet, when NASCAR decides to turn left and right, new subject matter and new instances come up.
Case in point, this weekend’s Nationwide race at Road America in Wisconsin. Things got interesting during the afternoon when rain hit the track, and for a while the race went under the red flag. But when it let up a bit, NASCAR then made the call for teams to start preparing to race again.
But wait, it was still raining, right? Yes it was, NASCAR was saying get prepared to go back racing, by putting brake lights in the rear windows, adding wiper blades to the windshield, and taking out the grooved Goodyear Eagle race tires.
Yes, for just the third time ever, NASCAR raced in the rain. Years ago, the original rain tire was tested at Watkins Glen, but was never used. Then a few years ago when it began raining in Montreal, NASCAR brought out those same tires to go racing in the rain. Some wondered if the tires would hold up being that they were over 10 years old at the time, but Goodyear officials always had a plan for them. The tires were kept in a controlled environment so the rubber did not crack or break, so the tires they put on were practically brand new.
A year later, the new Goodyear rain tire debuted, based off a tire that Goodyear made for passenger cars.
Since then, it was always brought to road courses for the Nationwide Series in case they needed to run in wet conditions, however were never even considered for Cup competition. At the time, the generation 5 “car of tomorrow” was bulkier, heavier, and didn’t handle like the cars the tires were tested on, and even the new tires weren’t tested on these cars.
I personally never thought I’d see the day when the grooved tires would even be seen on a stock car, much less used. But unlike the tires from the late 1990′s, these tires are new generation technology, and are able to handle such cars like the new Nationwide cars that debuted in 2010.
Racing in the rain is only talked about when a road course comes up on the schedule, and personally I like it that way. We all know that racing in the rain is impossible on the ovals simply because of science. The g-forces would not let it happen, and it would just make for chaos.
This is just one of the reasons why I love road courses. If you want to know the others, just wait till Watkins Glen, because more will be revealed.
RESULTS: 1-Edwards 2-Gordon 3-Earnhardt Jr. 4-McMurray 5-Menard 6-Kahne 7-Johnson 8-Ambrose 9-Biffle 10-Bowyer
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Kurt Busch 16-Logano 20-Harvick 22-Keselowski 25-Kyle Busch 26-Hamlin
CAUTIONS: 6 for 19 laps. Lap 32-34 (Fluid on Track from #40), 62-64 (#83 Stalled on Track), 72-74 (Debris-T10), 76-79 (#20, 88 Accident-T7), 83-85 (#15, 4, 1 Accident-T11), 92-94 (#55, 17 Accident-FS).
LEAD CHANGES: 11 among 9 drivers. McMurray 1-8, Allmendinger 9-21, Harvick 22-31, Allmendinger 32-53, McMurray 54, Gordon 55-57, Harvick 58-70, Johnson 71, Logano 72-74, Bowyer 75-79, Ambrose 80-84, Edwards 85-110.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 51 Mins, 30 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 76.583 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.591 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Gordon, 580 points*; 2. Johnson, -20*; 3. Earnhardt Jr, -25*; 4. Kenseth, -65; 5. Keselowski, -68*; 6. Edwards, -71*; 7. Logano, -97*; 8. Newman, -107; 9. Harvick, -108*; 10. Larson, -110
*Race Winner, Chase Eligible