NASCAR’s Sawyer says Loudon’s wet race was ‘very successful’

When NASCAR rolled out wet weather tires for ovals in 2023, the sanctioning body did so with hopes of being able to open the window for it to start races on time and squeak in races that could otherwise be delayed by moisture.

The sanctioning body is still new in the process, but it felt like it had successful examples of both scenarios at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Both Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Cup Series race were impacted by rain and the use of wet weather tires. The Xfinity race began on wets due to rain, while the Cup field was able to squeeze in the final 82 scheduled laps on wets after mid-race showers stalled Sunday’s USA Today 301.


After reaching the scheduled conclusion of both races, NASCAR deemed its latest wet weather trials a success.

“I think the way we started this whole wet weather tire process was, basically, we wanted to get our races started on time,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said after the race. “It really played into our hand yesterday to get the Xfinity race started on time, and to get our races back to green as quick as possible if we had a delay, which we had today.

“Kudos to Goodyear. This was Jim France’s vision of what wet weather tires could do. We ran 301+ laps today, went into overtime. Our fans that bought a ticket got to see some great, exciting racing.”

NASCAR’s unique wet weather format still leaves many questions. Series officials have yet to allow teams to choose when to take slicks or wets, mandating stops for either. Teams were forced to pit twice for new wets in the final stages of Sunday’s race. Pit stops are also noncompetitive – a move made in the name of safety on a wet pit road.

It can make for a jarring visual for fans of other series like Formula 1 and the NTT IndyCar Series, where changing for wet or dry tires is often part of an active race. NASCAR claims it’s being cautious as it continues to learn. Sunday’s race was only the third that the Cup field has contested with wet tires, following the 2023 All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway and this spring’s trip to Richmond Raceway.

“There’s still some things that we’re learning through this process,” Sawyer admitted. “In all honesty, we’d like to be out of the tire business. We’d like to just turn that over to the teams, but we continue to take small steps and we learn. Eventually we’ll get there; we just want to do this in the safest way possible.

“Once we get back to the R&D Center, we start downloading exactly how this race unfolded” Sawyer later added. ”We’ll get back and we’ll look at all the things that transpired today and if we should have got on dries. The more we looked at it, I think staying on wets was the right decision to end the race.“

While the current format has its flaws, NASCAR still feels it’s been successful in early trials. Without wet weather tires, Sawyer admitted that Sunday’s race would “have been done with 82 laps to go.”

Instead, it reached the scheduled distance and even made it through overtime.

That’s a successful outing in Sawyer’s eyes.

“If you go back and look at the reason we came up with this and we started working through it with the teams and the folks at the R&D Center, it was to do exactly what we did yesterday in the Xfinity race and what we did today with the Cup race,” Sawyer said. “So yes, very successful.”

Story originally appeared on Racer