Motorsport News

FOX Handles Rain Well, then Creates Boredom

2024 Cup Richmond I Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, burnout (Credit: NKP)

Richmond Raceway has been an acquired taste in recent years.

It is a short track that trends towards long runs with the field spread out. In addition, the pavement is relatively old, leading to a lot of tire wear. Normally, that expands the groove, but Sunday (March 31) night was an exception to the rule.

The exception is due to one of the biggest stories of the night: the rain that forced NASCAR to start the race on wet-weather tires.

Before we get started, I’m under the opinion that the wet-weather tires NASCAR has are kind of annoying, like the worst kind of limitations at your day job. You’re unhappy with what you have and complain about it, only to be told that it’s “working as intended.” That’s generally how I feel about the wet-weather tires at Richmond and how I felt last year at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

The first 30 laps of the race were run with wet-weather tires and were generally quite competitive. It was likely the time of the race when we saw the most choice in racing lines and the most side-by-side racing. The broadcast booth truly seemed to like the on-track action that we saw. I was satisfied as well.

Then, NASCAR threw the competition caution, kept everyone under yellow for 10 laps, then brought the cars in for mandatory swaps to slicks in non-competitive stops. I have plenty of say about that, but there isn’t room for that in this column (it’s slightly off-topic).

What is on-topic is that the rain early Sunday evening negatively affected the rest of the race once everyone switched to slicks. The track was never truly dry. It was dry in the lower two lanes but stayed moist above that. It is a testament to the driver’s skill levels that no one wiped out in the moisture, but it limited where people could race.

Or, in the case of Martin Truex Jr., it allowed him to use the moisture in a defensive move against foes. The fact that this race was at night also affected what we saw negatively.

The end of the race will likely be remembered for the somewhat debatable final restart where Denny Hamlin appeared to accelerate prior to the restart zone. FOX had replays ready to go that appeared to show that Hamlin went early. Yet NASCAR seemingly didn’t even review the situation. I have no idea why it didn’t do even the most cursory review here, but it left a lot of fans with a bad taste in their mouths. The booth seemed confused about that as well.

Truex was unhappy after the race about…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at …