Wet weather tires met with positive-to-mixed reactions
MARTINSVILLE, VA. — For the first time in NASCAR history, drivers competed on an oval with wet weather tires, with positive-to-mixed reactions Friday at Martinsville Speedway.
Lightning delayed the start of the race by around an hour-and-a-half. Then, crews dried the 0.526-mile track for a half-hour to make it race-ready.
Teams bolted on the wet weather tires and drivers ran around 8-10 pace laps with them.
Then, for the first time in NASCAR history, an oval race went green with drivers running wet weather tires.
The race went caution-free with standard operating procedures for the first 25 laps before a competition caution. During the caution, NASCAR deemed the track dry enough to require teams put on slick tires.
In April 2021, the sanctioning body first tested the wet weather tires with Chris Buescher and Kyle Larson at Martinsville. The test netted positive results that built until NASCAR approved the wet weather tires for competition late last year.
Many noted the tires could be used when the track is almost dry but is still damp.
After teams changed to slick tires, NASCAR kept the lap 25 competition caution going for several laps. Crews dried parts of the track until the caution ended on lap 41.
After stage one ended on lap 50, rain hit again. This caused a red-flag period and a 20-lap caution as crews dried the track again.
While many heralded the first test as a success, some teams expressed frustration over what happened.
Reports indicate teams each spent $2,400 on two sets of wet weather tires. Teams used only one set during the race.
Among those who pointed this out were Timmy Hill’s team and Hailie Deegan’s partner, racer Chase Cabre.
Over the radio, leaders Corey Heim and Kyle Busch’s teams each questioned what NASCAR was doing with the rain tires.
The race after 124 laps but the 25 laps with damp tires pushed the race over to making it official.
The next race for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is May 6 at Kansas Speedway. However, the next race with wet weather tires as an option is May 20 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
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