NASCAR found itself stuck between a rock and a hard place, Sunday, at Circuit of the Americas.
Sunday’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix gave the NASCAR Cup Series its first real taste of racing in the rain. Never mind the fact it ran wet weather tires at Charlotte Motor Speedway last year, as that took place on a damp track. At COTA, drivers dealt with visibility issues from the rooster tails of water. Which led to back-to-back wrecks on the backstretch.
In the closing laps, the rain intensified and threw a curveball of standing water. Now cars were hydroplaning on the backstretch and sliding off track.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 23, 2021
Eventually, it was too much, and NASCAR called it.
The White Zone: NASCAR picked its poison at COTA
Sunday presented NASCAR with a pick your poison scenario: Wait out the rain for better weather and risk pushing the start to Monday, or run the race on wet weather tires and risk a shit-show.
Pick the former, and we all sit for hours doing nothing just hoping that we get a break in the weather. Plus with no lights, thus limiting how long NASCAR could wait, this race almost certainly gets pushed to Monday. Which means fewer eyeballs watch, as people work during the day.
Pick the latter, you slap wet weather tires on cars that already aren’t built for racing on road courses and make them race in weather conditions they’re not built for. Moreover, you risk turning the race into a shit-show.
NASCAR’s damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.
Thus, given the unenviable task, NASCAR picked the latter. In doing so, we learned these cars can race in damp conditions, but standing water is a no-go.
Furthermore, if it picked the former, everyone (probably) complains that it brought rain tires for nothing. And I’d’ve joined them.
Look, I’m not saying NASCAR made the right choice with racing in the rain, but I’m not saying it made the wrong choice, either. Given the circumstances, this was the best outcome NASCAR could’ve gotten. And with road courses making up nearly a quarter of the schedule now, it can’t afford to do the all-or-nothing approach on weather, anymore.
I just hope NASCAR learned where the line is for racing in the rain, Sunday, and we don’t make this mistake, again.
That’s my view, for what it’s worth.
TOP IMAGE: Chris Graythen/Getty Images