Here we go again. NASCAR implemented a solid strategy for its return to live racing amid the coronavirus pandemic with four Cup Series races scheduled in the span of 11 days, but weather forecasts have not been cooperative. Now Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is in danger of a rain delay.
Mother Nature — or, more specifically in this case, tropical storm Bertha — appears to care not for midweek NASCAR racing at Charlotte.
NASCAR AT CHARLOTTE:
Odds to win | Starting lineup | TV schedule
Tropical storm Bertha was named Wednesday morning as it neared the South Carolina coast. Most projections show the storm heading northwest, right over Charlotte Motor Speedway, throughout Wednesday and into Thursday.
2:30 PM @CLTMotorSpdwy update: TD #Bertha moving across SC & its rotation is evident on radar. Rain falling at track & fcst to continue til 8-10 PM ET. Flash flood watch is in effect. Coord w/@NASCAR_Wxman, Odds of Racing is 50-60% w/anticipated delay to start of race (8:25 PM) pic.twitter.com/z88Rd3WuDA
— RaceWeather – Aaron Studwell, Ph.D. (@RaceWeather) May 27, 2020
This obviously is not a good development for NASCAR, which would plan to start the race at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday should it get rained out Wednesday night.
Below is what we know about the weather forecast NASCAR will monitor as the 8 p.m. ET start time for Wednesday night’s race approaches.
NASCAR race weather forecast for Charlotte
8:15 p.m. ET: The race has been delayed until Thursday.
NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte is postponed to 7pm ET Thursday … The Xfinity race at Bristol on Saturday will be moved to 7pm ET Monday to allow time for equipment to get to Bristol and get set up. #nascar @NASCARONFOX
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 28, 2020
7:50 p.m. ET: Rain is still coming down.
According to the weather.com forecast for the Concord, N.C., area (the suburban location of the speedway), there is a 75 percent chance of rain at 8 p.m. ET, when Wednesday night’s Cup Series race is scheduled to start. There is a 100 percent chance of precipitation as late as 7 p.m. ET.
Though the percentages drop, rain showers are expected to persist as the evening approaches midnight. Beyond the forecast, another issue for NASCAR will be the combination of moderate temperatures and high humidity. Track drying will take longer under these circumstances.
The Concord area is under a flash flood watch through 2 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist who unofficially provides weather forecasts for NASCAR races, was optimistic about the race as of Wednesday morning.
“It is very possible this system clears out of (Charlotte Motor Speedway) by 8pm this evening,” Neudorff tweeted Wednesday morning. He later added that the race likely will not start on time.
Aaron and I have been coordinating and it really comes down to timing and exiting of the rain. Data suggests it will be close. Odds of Racing 50/60% https://t.co/oKQ6l0y5Ou
— Brian Neudorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN) May 27, 2020
Wednesday night’s race, scheduled to take the green flag at 8:25 p.m. ET, is a relatively short event that features stage lengths of 55, 60 and 93 laps (310.6 miles). In this case, it needs only to reach the halfway point at Lap 104 to become official.
I think NASCAR would wait it out as long as there is a window … obviously race went past midnight on Sunday night so would expect NASCAR would be willing to go past midnight tonight, if necessary. Race probably 2-2.5 hours. https://t.co/YADTIn2RP6
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 27, 2020
The starting lineup for Wednesday night’s race was set upon the conclusion of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at the same track. The order for the top 20 starters is an inversion of the top 20 finishers from the 600 with the exception of Jimmie Johnson, who failed post-race inspection and was disqualified from his second-place finish.
Because of Johnson’s disqualification from Sunday’s results, his HMS teammate, William Byron, received credit for a 20th-place finish rather than a 21st-place finish. That means Byron will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race. Another HMS driver, Alex Bowman, will join Byron on the front row thanks to his 20th-place finish Sunday.