Teams will incorporate new rain package on Sprint Cup cars this weekend.
For the second time this season, NASCAR will bring a new rain package to a road course for the Sprint Cup tour.
Last September, the sanctioning body introduced new rules for racing in inclement weather. While it seldom rains at Sonoma, the chance to use windshield wipers, de-foggers, a rear flashing light and rain tires with the cars will be more likely this weekend at Watkins Glen.
AJ Allmendinger, defending winner of the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, has raced in the rain before — but the experience doesn’t rank high on his list.
What makes racing in the rain interesting is all the oils that are in the race track come up once it gets wet. So it’s all about trying to find the spots where there is more grip than not.
“It’s slick,” Allmendinger said. “Very slick. What makes racing in the rain interesting is all the oils that are in the race track come up once it gets wet. So it’s all about trying to find the spots where there is more grip than not.
“It was never one of my favorite things to do. Somehow I missed a lot of rain racing. In Champ Car it didn’t happen a lot. In karting, I didn’t run a ton in the rain but there are certain things about it — it does equal the field a lot. The guys that have really good car control and can figure out the track quickly, there is that challenge.”
Obviously, Allmendinger is one of those guys. His two Xfinity Series wins came at Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio. In six starts at the Glen, he's completed every lap and never finished worse than 13th. The driver of the No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Chevy's average finish of 7.8 is supported by four top fives and four top-10s.
Although Dinger's earliest wet racing experiences came via karting and open wheel, driving a stock car in the rain is quite the challenge.
“I had one practice session at Road America in the wet,” Allmendinger said. “And these cars are big and heavy and they do flop around a lot. So it is something different than anything else I’ve ever driven in the rain.”
What you need to know…
Last Wednesday, NASCAR sent out a bulletin to the teams updating Rule 10.13 Inclement Weather Race Procedures (Road Course Events).
According to the note, should it rain, it will be up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Managing Director to determine whether the track surface is “dry, wet or damp”. At that point in the race, teams will be able to use “mandated or approved use of “wet” or “dry” condition equipment during competition.”
Should the race start in “wet” weather conditions (10.13.2) the cars will (.a) start on the grid in “dry equipment configuration. After the series director declares “a ‘wet’ weather start (when the track surface is entirely covered with moisture),” the drivers will take a pace lap behind the caution car, (c) “return to their assigned pit stall and “install rain tires, front windshield wiper(s), and activate the rear flashing light for the Race.
"No other adjustments or refueling will be permitted at this time. The vehicles will then re-enter the race track in their original starting positions behind the caution vehicle for the remaining pace laps. Normal starting procedures will be utilized to start the Race.
“(.d) The vehicle must receive the green flag on the race track before the team is permitted to change to or utilize "dry" weather tires.
“(.e) Once the Race is started under “wet” weather conditions the crew chief is solely responsible for the decision of when to change to or utilize "dry" or "wet" condition equipment throughout the Race.
Damp condition starts
According to the NASCAR Rulebook section 10.13.3, for race starts under “damp” conditions (when only portions of the track are wet), once the course has been deemed “damp” by the series director and after the pace lap, the cars (.c) “will return to their assigned pit stall and may elect, at the team’s discretion, to install the rain tires and/or front windshield wiper(s). The rear flashing light must be activated for the Race under “damp” conditions.
"No other adjustments or refueling will be permitted at this time. The vehicles will then re-enter the race track in their original starting position behind the caution vehicle for the remaining pace laps. Normal starting procedures will be utilized to start the Race.
“(.d) If a team(s) elects not to change tires on the designated “damp” conditions pit stop, but chooses to pit on the remaining pace lap(s), the team will forgo their original starting position and start at the rear of the field in the order they re-entered the race track from pit road.
“(.e) Once the Race is started under “damp” weather conditions the crew chief is solely responsible for the decision of when to change/utilize "dry" or "wet" condition equipment throughout the Race.”
Where the rubber meets the road…
This weekend Goodyear will bring the same tire code (D-4590) for both left and right-side tires — the same tires that’s been run at the Glen since 2013. D-4590 was also run at Road American in the XFINITY Series last year and will be used for all three NXS races this season.
Should it rain, the wet radials will be D-4215. Teams will have four sets of tires for practice and qualifying and five sets for the race.
Goodyear’s Stu Grant told motorsport.com that although the dry tires were different for Sonoma and The Glen, the rain tire is the same.
“The tread on a rain tire is a little bit softer and a little bit thicker — that’s the main difference there,” Grant said. “It’s going to be cooler and it’s going to be slower in the rain.”