If a NASCAR race is rain shortened, is it safe to race to the halt?

With all the things NASCAR has done to improve safety on the track, does it make sense to make the drivers race on a wet “loose” track? The Pocono race will probably be shortened. I see last lap crashes, and the dreaded green, white, checkered occurring. Is there another way to decide the end?

Sgt Schwartz

I’m by no means a NASCAR expert, but…

Races are red-flagged soon after the rain starts. The tires just don’t work well in the rain – they tend to make the car hydroplane. The amount of laps they do in the rain is minimal, and most of those are under the yellow caution flag at slower speeds.

Some side info:
One important thing to think about is whether the race is halfway or not (today’s was). If it is not yet halfway, the race must be run until it is at least at that point – whether it is on race day or the day after. If the race is more than halfway complete and NASCAR decides they can’t run anymore that day, it’s over and the winner is announced.

If it is not yet halfway, deciding whether to continue on the same day is affected by the time of day (if the track has no lights, darkness is a problem), and whether the rain is going to stop any time soon. Even if the rain stops and it is daylight, you still need to factor in the time it takes to dry the track to get a restart in.

But no, NASCAR doesn’t race at green-flag speeds when it is anything more than the lightest drizzle. In today’s race, the caution flag was not thrown right away because only one part of the track was seeing anything more than a drizzle – at least for a few laps.


A green/white/checker will only occur at the end of the scheduled laps, not in today’s situation.

When they went yellow, positions were frozen. There was no reason for anyone to go for position after that. Had the (before yellow) Gordon/Newman tussle turned into a crash, it wouldn’t have mattered. (Except to Gordon and Newman.) The yellow would have fallen a bit earlier, that’s all. Then red, then called.

NASCAR tires have no tread, they’re all about 100% contact with the track. Personally, I think that when it starts raining they should throw a yellow, everyone comes in and gets rain tires, throw a windshield wiper on an already installed motor, then they continue racing. That may be just me.

Usually when they call a race for rain they don’t announce it ahead of time as in “Okay, it looks like it’s starting to rain everyone. Three more laps and that’s it.”

They usually announce to be in effect immediately and freeze the field then and there.

My son (3 yrs. old) has become something of a racecar fan, so we have been watching NASCAR this year. I have never paid any attention to this sport before now, but did have a question regarding the rain at Pocono race yesterday.

What, exactly, was the “odd strategy” Jeff Gordon’s team employed? I guess I ask this question because I don’t understand the differences between pitting on the yellow vs. pitting on the green, but in pitting when he did, was he essentially betting the race would remain green until the rainstorm came, and that every car would have to pit before the 100th lap? If a yellow had come on, say, the 90th lap, I assume he would be behind nearly every other car that hadn’t pitted, and so when these cars pit under the yellow flag, they retain their position in the race; is this right?

Also, while asking about rain and NASCAR, is it me or are there an unusually high number of races this year affected by rain? Unlike other sports affected by the elements (e.g. Baseball), rain seems to be a disaster (at least TV-wise) for NASCAR; not only does the race halt, but it can take quite some time just to get the track back to racing conditions.