MARTINSVILLE, Va. — With rain likely Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR was able to use wet tires on an oval track in a cup race for the first time.
The tread tires are designed to allow NASCAR to get cars onto the track before the race surface is dry, reducing the time fans have to wait for an event to start or resume.
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But NASCAR does not intend to race on ovals in the rain because spray from cars reduces visibility of following cars. With walls on ovals, this makes the situation more dangerous than racing in the rain on a street course, which usually has more run-out space.
NASCAR got its first chance to use the wet tires on an oval track at Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series race in Martinsville. The experience provided officials with important lessons that should help them decide when to use the tires in future situations.
“I think overall it was a success,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, of the use of the wet tires in Friday’s truck race. “There were many things that we learned. I thought the way we put on the rain pants worked out well. I think the big learning that we kind of have to work through is when we have a wet or damp pit lane and keep it as safe as possible, going back and forth between rain and (slick tires).