One of the more obvious shortcomings of NASCAR has been its inability to race in ovals when the surface is wet, or while it's raining. Since the beginning, cars were grounded due to safety concerns with the slick tires and slippery surfaces. Now it looks like an oval wet weather package for the Next Gen car is happening next year.
According to Road and Track, NASCAR has been searching for solutions to rain delays at oval races. The series has settled on a package largely similar to the road course wet package, which includes a windshield wiper, rain lights, mud flaps, and rain tires. The only caveat is that this package will only be used on short oval tracks chosen by the series, such as Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
There are updates to the package for 2023, mostly in terms of lighting. Instead of a single flashing rain light, there will be four lights that function as brake lights as well as flash. Two will be mounted in the rear window and two more between the rear bumper and diffuser. All of this is to help visibility in the heavy water spray conditions of a rain race.
NASCAR currently runs rain races at road courses like Circuit of the Americas and Watkins Glen (should the conditions present themselves, of course). Drainage, track surface, and the likelihood of hydroplaning are different from an oval. The higher the speed, the higher the chance of hydroplaning. Thus, the upgrade still won’t bring rain racing to larger speedways. It’s also unlikely that any sort of modifications would make wet high-speed superspeedway racing safe.
But the rain package isn’t a magic bullet. NASCAR will still delay starts for standing water, meaning this is a solution for very damp oval tracks at best. Still, it’s a step towards greater versatility for the Next Gen car and more racing is always welcome. NASCAR has yet to release an official comment on the package.
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