Wet Loudon finish will leave people talking for days to come

The NASCAR Cup Series field spent most of Sunday racing to beat the rain at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but in the end it was the race after the rain that will leave the industry talking in the coming days.

NASCAR attempted to avoid the rain altogether, starting the race early at 2:06 p.m. to give teams plenty of time to complete the planned 301 laps, but storms arrived with 82 laps to go, resulting in a 2h14m delay that briefly threatened to end the race early.

With just enough of a window to run the final quarter of the race before darkness, NASCAR elected to restart the event at 6:43 p.m. ET. Teams were given wet weather tires and tasked with managing wear on a rapidly drying track after the green flag waved with 73 to go.


What ensued was something unlike any other race seen at the Magic Mile. Drivers ran all over the track for grip, ranging from the apron to a lane off the outside wall. Under cautions they searched far and wide for wet track to cool their tires, running against the inside wall and outside walls or through paved sections of the infield on the back stretch.

Some longtime contenders faded, Denny Hamlin among them, while others like Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry marched through the field and into the top five.

There were frequent cautions – first for a Ross Chastain spin, then another for a crashed Corey LaJoie. Noah Gragson lost control of his No. 10 on the apron – where the paint was likely slicked in the wet — and set off a large crash that took out playoff contender Bubba Wallace.


After that caution, NASCAR brought teams back to pit road for another set of wet tires. The stops were controlled and non-competitive, but the action that followed on track was tense and eventful.

The race restarted with 27 to go but was quickly slowed for a Carson Hocevar crash with 18 laps left. Teams put on another set of wets to stretch to the end. The route to that end was chaotic with a crash for front frontrunners Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney followed by a late spin for Brad Keselowski that pushed the race to overtime.

By the time Christopher Bell took the checkered flag in overtime to end the race, more than six hours had passed. It was 8:10 p.m. ET, darkness was descending upon New Hampshire and heavy rain was just minutes away.

New Hampshire’s seen many unique races in its time on the NASCAR schedule. The track hosted the season finale in 2001 after its planned date was postponed due to the September 11 terrorist attack. It hosted a race with restrictor plates led entirely by Jeff Burton in 2000. A young Joey Logano scored a rain-shorted win in 2009 and Aric Almirola won a race called due to darkness after leaders wrecked early on a wet track in 2021.

Now the track can add Sunday’s race against the darkness and the rain to the list.

Story originally appeared on Racer