NASCAR Makes Changes To Rules for Rainy Road Course Events

by Caitlin Berard

Even on the most gorgeous, sunny days, NASCAR races are a dangerous business. So when inclement weather hits the track, it often spells disaster for NASCAR teams and fans alike, as an entirely new set of variables must be taken into consideration. As with all rules in NASCAR, those for rain and other weather events are concrete and unyielding. In fact, rainy weather is one of the few events that can cause a race postponement.

Though frustrating, the strict rules surrounding inclement weather are there for good reason. A wet race track can dramatically alter the cars’ ability to stop or turn. Though a NASCAR race can technically take place in the rain, precautions are taken to protect drivers from an unnecessary level of danger.

One such precaution involves a change in the stock cars’ tires. A typical NASCAR tire is treadless, allowing for maximum contact with the track. Though beneficial in dry weather, a bald tire makes hydroplaning on a rainy track a near-certainty. Because of this, there are rain tires made specifically for NASCAR road races.

The Changes to NASCAR Rain Rules

This year, NASCAR is making an effort to reduce the impact of rainy weather on its races by enforcing a few changes to its rain rules. The first change comes in the form of a rain flap requirement. If wet conditions occur on road courses, NASCAR now mandates the installation of rain flaps on all four tires.

Unlike typical rain flaps you might see on the road, these are made from 0.09-inch thick aluminum. This mandatory addition comes as an effort to minimize the amount of water kicked up by the speeding cars on wet tracks. With the rain flaps, drivers won’t suffer quite as much loss in visibility due to water spray.

The second change is in the requirement of wet weather tires. Rather than mandating rain tires, NASCAR is now giving each team the option of switching to the alternative tire following the declaration of wet conditions.

Now, there’s a catch. Once wet conditions are announced, each driver will get the opportunity to return to their pit stall and make the tire configuration changes. They may do so without penalty, returning to their original starting positions afterward.

Should they decline to do so, they must use the normal tire configuration. If they decide to swap tires later in the race, they will forgo their starting position and move to the rear of the field.

These changes were met with general relief from NASCAR fans. Their biggest frustrations on race day are the yellow and red flags that slow down the action.