NASCAR, team officials discuss logistics in race postponement
LONG POND, Pa.—For
the second time in 2016, a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway
has been postponed at least one day from its original scheduled start
due to rain.
The Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway is re-scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. on NBC Sports Network.
A race delayed one day affects schedules of personnel involved with teams, NASCAR officials, track officials and fans in tqhe grandstands and camping areas.
Kurt Culbert, managing director for NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing Communications, broke down the decision making to postpone a Sprint Cup Series race, and in particular, the Pennsylvania 400.
“We monitor the weather very closely, even days coming into the event, and first and foremost, we want to try and get the entire event into the day that it’s scheduled,” he said. “The fans deserve that, even the fans at home that are expecting to watch on TV, they deserve that.
“We want to try and get the entire race in, all 400 miles in this case, at Pocono Raceway, and we make a lot of decisions with that at play.
“We have several meetings that take place, like I mentioned, they started earlier in the week and we have those daily, and when you get to the actual race event, and you notice that you expect some of the weather implication, you have those frequently throughout the day.
“That’s done in coordination with the broadcast team, in this case, our partners at NBC Sports and NBCSN which is broadcasting, and will broadcast this race tomorrow. It’s done with the race track and it’s done with several NASCAR executives. We know how long it takes to dry the track, all things remaining constant and weather is one thing that becomes a bit unpredictable and it isn’t always constant so that’s why it’s important to monitor it throughout the day.
“Once you get to the point where you know you can’t get the race in, in it’s entirety, some difficult decisions need to be made, and that was the case here today.”
At the time of publication, weather.com forecast for Monday calls for a high of 73 and a precipitation
chance of 80 percent. Beyond Monday, Tuesday calls for a 50 percent chance of precipitation.
The last time a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was postponed two days after its originally scheduled start date was the Atlanta race in September of 2011. That race was run on the following Tuesday.
Culvert did not speculate what NASCAR’s protocol would be if the race were to be postponed beyond Monday.
“That happens in rare occasions and I wouldn’t even want to pontificate beyond tomorrow at this point," he said. "The one thing we have at our advantage tomorrow is an earlier start time, so we feel confident that we will be able to get the race in, in it’s entirety, based on the weather forecast that exists today.”
For teams in the field, a race pushed back changes the schedules of team members, including pit crews.
St. Hilaire, general manager of Go Fas Racing (No. 32 team), talked
about how his team will be affected by the one day delay.
“So on a typical weekend, after this race, our drivers were going to head out and they would be at home in Mooresville probably around 4 or 5 in the morning,” he said.
“On a regular Monday, the guys from the shop would have unloaded all the hauler and brought our new car over to the dyno to get done, so our motor tuner is actually with us here so he’s the one to get that done, so on Mondays when stuff like this happens and we might have to race on a Monday and the cars not back, we might have to send somebody back with some of the pieces and parts.
“Being a smaller program, we can’t keep everything that we have at the shop, so some of the stuff that we do need for next week is here with us now. So we will have to send a few guys back, if not more, and get some help there to finish out the week.”
St. Hilaire said his pit crew, who are contracted through Roush Fenway Racing, will be staying in Pennsylvania tonight, rather than heading back to North Carolina.
Jay Robinson, car owner of the No. 55 and No. 98, additionally talked with TRE about how the delay affects his two-car operation.
“Well, as far as our team, we thought this may happen, so immediately, when our cars cleared tech this morning, we sent a van back to Charlotte to start working on the Watkins Glen cars,” he said.
“As far as the pit crew, it really doesn’t have a lot of effect. We have a Hendrick crew and of course, they are here for the duration.”
one day less to prepare for the series’ next stop at Watkins Glen
International, Robinson said the extra day at the track will not
change his team’s plans.
“Well, it really doesn’t change our plan at all, I hate it for all the fans that may not be able to come back tomorrow or whenever we end up running this,” he said. “But from our perspective we’re going to be ready to race whenever it is. We’ve got a good group back working on Watkins Glen so I think we’re pretty well prepared for this.”