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A perfect example why NASCAR should never race in the rain

By admin | August 30, 2009

By Richard Allen

I’ve been to numerous races that have been rained out and have been disappointed each time. However, any of those times were preferable to what occurred over the last 15 laps of Sunday’s Nationwide race in Montreal.

Late in the race, rain set in at the Quebec track and NASCAR sent the cars to the pits to switch over to rain set ups. Tires, windshield wipers and defrosting agents were applied to the machines and drivers were sent back out to finish the race in wet conditions.

Qualifying had taken place the day before in the wet. And, last year this same race was run in the rain. The best thing to be said for each of those happenings was that neither turned out to be a disaster. So, with that solid record of success to their credit, NASCAR decided to give racing in the rain another go. Well, their ‘not turning into a disaster’ record is now over.

Watching big, heavy stock cars tip-toe around a wet road course is far from entertaining. Watching them stage a wreck and caution fest was a joke and made a mockery of the sport.

I know there will be more than a few people who will proclaim the day a success and will point to Carl Edwards’ last corner pass of Marcos Ambrose as the evidence of that. And, I will admit that the racing among the top-5 cars was entertaining. That is, what little actual racing there was among the top-5.

The racing, or should I say the wrecking, from 6th on back was predictable and an embarrassment. The record number of cautions and torn up race cars serve as evidence of that. Even commentator/car owner Rusty Wallace offered a degree of criticism, or at least amazement, at the events that were unfolding before him.

There are more than a few drivers in the Nationwide Series (and the Sprint Cup Series for that matter) who should barely be allowed to race on dry tracks, let alone wet ones. To expect those drivers to put a good show under such conditions was foolish.

With the race so close to the scheduled end, it should have been called at that point.

The only reason the race last year was not a disaster was that the rain came early on in the event and it was the first time for a race to take place in the wet, so everyone tip-toed all day long and stayed out of each other’s way. This year, with the rain coming in so late, that was not the case.

Last week, I wrote that I was disappointed in the Bristol track because the action had been taken out of it in the Sprint Cup race. The difference between that and this is racing on short tracks is meant to be done with a certain degree of aggression and grinding. And, the races at Bristol are meant to be run on a dry track under optimum conditions. Racing in the rain simply causes drivers to lose control for no other reason than the poor condition of the track. That isn’t racing at all, at least not with these type of cars.

The worst race in NASCAR history almost certainly has to have been the tire debacle race in Indianapolis last year. In my opinion, however, had Sunday’s race in Montreal had a few more laps of wrecking, I mean racing, in the rain it would have given the Indy race a run for its money.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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10 Responses to “A perfect example why NASCAR should never race in the rain”

  1. Joe Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 1:49 am

    disagreed. im glad NASCAR let them run in the rain. we saw last year and yesterday they are quite capable of running in the rain with no problems.

    you’re always going to have a slip here and there but when its inside 10 laps to go at ANY TRACK wet or dry you’re going to have alot of beating and banging

  2. rfr Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Worst last 10 laps I ever saw. What good are rain tires, if the drivers have not talent or common sense on how to race on them. The cautions, bad enough, were incredibly long to just pick a few pieces of debris.

  3. Bill B Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 6:36 am

    I agree Rich. I will never understand why a certain percentage of NASCAR fans like crap-shoot racing. You know, a race where anyone can win because there is some factor (like restrictor plates or rain, blindfolds, etc) that make everyone equal. Then there are also the fans that think the number of wrecks that occur during the race defines how good the race was - more wrecks = better race.

  4. Jay B. Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I disagree the problem was not them racing in the rain. The problem was idiots getting overly agressive. I guarantee that if the track had not been wet, those same accidents would have happen. I mean look at the rest of the race, people were getting into each other all over the place. Almost everybody, except Marcos Ambrose, mainly because he was ahead of everybody else all race, had damage to their cars already. The problem wasn’t racing in the rain, the problem was that there were only 15 laps to go and a lot of non Nationwide regulars that had nothing to lose.

  5. steven Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 11:23 am

    it will be ok if they just keep steven wallace off the track.

  6. Joe W. Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Jay B. How can you blame all the wrecking on Nationwide non regulars? It seem to me that Steven Wallace caused more wrecks than everyone else put together. I am not against Steven Wallace, I even hoped he would pop Kyle Busch last year, but he was a hazard out there yesterday. Also Carl Edwards car looked in pretty good shape at the end of the day too.

  7. Jeff Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    “Even commentator/car owner Rusty Wallace offered a degree of criticism, or at least amazement, at the events that were unfolding before him.”

    LOL What else are ya gonna do when it is your own son out there being the biggest idiot of all…and…spending YOUR money!

  8. Marc Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    rich - “Watching big, heavy stock cars tip-toe around a wet road course is far from entertaining. Watching them stage a wreck and caution fest was a joke and made a mockery of the sport.”

    So says you.

    |But if you noticed, but obviously didn’t the likes of Ambrose, Ranger, Villeneuve and others well versed in rain racing didn’t have any trouble.

    The problem is those that have not had the experience, and it plainly showed.

    As for “big heavy stock cars” not being able to race in the rain, poppycock.

    Ask Ambrose how well the Aussie V8’s run in the rain, the Holdens and Fords are just as big.

  9. Charles Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I dont want to go to a race and sit in the rain period!
    Remember its about the fans, sure they could run in the rain it may be fine for them!

    I dont want to go now when its a sunny day! Much less going an sitting in the rain so Nascar can get the race over with, which is what it is really about!

  10. Annoyed Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I wish that the Nascar series teams/drivers would be held to a higher standard… is it too much to ask for that? My complaint goes back to last year’s fiasco at Indianapolis. Nascar officials threw yellow flags after every 12 or so laps because of the tire compound issue…… Aren’t the teams/drivers capable of coming in after every 12 laps by them selves? Does Nascar have to manage a bunch of incompetent drivers?

    I would like to see the Nascar Sprint/Nationwide/Campingworld series go to racing in the rain. I love watching the Rolex/GT series and the F1 cars race in the rain. Why can they do it? Aren’t there previous Nascar drivers who drive in the Rolex/GT series?? In the rain??

    Nascar Sprint/Nationwide/Campingworld series drivers should watch and learn that its not always pedal to the metal…. sometimes a smart driver is needed. And Nascar themselves need to say to the drivers/teams… you idiots are not 2 years old….