NASCAR pleased with wet weather tires at Richmond

The first 30 laps of Sunday night’s Cup series race at Richmond Raceway went as planned for NASCAR by running on wet weather tires.

“A credit to Jim France, this was his vision a couple of years ago,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said. “He tasked the R&D Center and Goodyear to come up with a tire that we could run in the damp and tonight a success. We were able to get the race started pretty much on time. The guys did a great job with the tire. Goodyear did a phenomenal job.

“We called the competition caution at Lap 30; that was about where we needed to be. It looked like we might have been able to go another five or so laps, but the main thing is we were able to get the race started, our fans at home got to view the race, as well as the fans here at the track. So, goal accomplished.”


The Toyota Owners 400 was scheduled for a 7:15 p.m. ET start but didn’t take the green flag until about 7:30 p.m. ET. NASCAR declared it a damp start, telling teams to put on the wet weather tires for the first time in Cup Series history in a points-paying race.

NASCAR can use wet weather tires on short ovals to start the race sooner than completely drying the racetrack. There were no windshield wipers, rear mud flaps, or rear lights on the cars, and NASCAR has no intentions of racing when it is still raining.

There were no issues for drivers on the wet weather tires. As the track started to dry, NASCAR informed teams that the competition caution would be at Lap 30 so they could change onto slick tires. The pit stops were noncompetitive, meaning the field was frozen, and no positions were lost or gained on pit road.

“Unlike road courses where pit road is wet, and we’d allow the teams to make the decisions whether to put dries or wets on (the car), on the short ovals, we’re still not to a place where we feel comfortable doing that,” Sawyer said. “We’re looking out for the safety. This is only our third event that we’ve actually run wet weather tires; we ran the trucks at Martinsville (Speedway) last year, (and) obviously (North) Wilkesboro. So, we have another data point.

“That’s one thing we want to work hard on, we want to be able to start the race, put all the competition in the team’s hands, the strategy when to put tires on, when to take them off and the sanctioning body not be in the middle of that decision making. I think we’ll get there sooner than later, but all in all, just a huge success and credit to Goodyear and all of our folks at the R&D Center, and obviously Mr. France’s vision to get us here.”

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag a few minutes before 11 p.m. ET. It would have been even later had NASCAR not started the night on wet weather tires.

“We could have been sitting there another hour getting everything dry like we have in the past,” Sawyer said. “So, again, huge credit to everyone for putting the effort in to get us to this point with the tires … we’ll learn from this and be able to make better decisions going forward.”

Story originally appeared on Racer