LOUDON, N.H. — Be it poor decision-making or simply bad luck, the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway wasn’t good for anyone involved.
Despite mist blanketing the “Magic Mile,” NASCAR officials allowed the Foxwoods 301 to start as scheduled. By the end of Lap 6, a heavy downpour drenched the surface and Kyle Busch, the pole sitter and race leader, had lost control and wrecked out. A nearly two-hour rain delay ensued.
NBC Sports spoke with several drivers during the delay.
Here are some notable remarks:
Martin Truex Jr.
“(During Lap 5), I hollered on the radio, ‘The track is wet — like wet wet.’ I tried to back it down and I got in there. It just kept going, I couldn’t even slow it down. At some point you gotta turn the wheel, and that’s when it spins out. … Felt like we were gonna have a good car today. It’s a real shame.”
?We started under a mist, so it never should?ve went green (flag) to begin with. But then it kept getting worse and worse with lap and lap. The lap before, I went into (Turn) 1, and it shoved the nose really bad. I was able to keep it under control; it wasn?t wet enough. And then next time I went down there ? just backed it in.
?We?d been talking about it for two laps that it was raining. There?s no sense in saying what I wanna say. It doesn?t do you any good.?
“We could feel the track get a little bit slicker, and a little bit slicker. It’s hard for us in the cockpit to tell if it’s misting like this or raining unless there’s big drops, cause it’s coming off the windshields so quick. So, you don’t really know, you can’t judge. You judge it on the feel. … You gotta get in the corner and feel it. And, if it’s really wet, you don’t really tell until you get down there. … I kinda wish we had pointed that out sooner and a couple cars didn’t get wrecked.
“It’s wet. I mean, we’re on slick tires, these cars don’t have any grip on slick tires and wet asphalt. To me, that’s what the job of the corner spotter has in NASCAR. They’re sitting over there, they can feel when it’s raining, they can see when it’s raining. That’s their job, is to tell NASCAR that, ‘It’s raining, we gotta stop.’ … So, you always, in these situations, you wanna err on the side of not looking bad, and this is just a bad look.”
NASCAR executive vice president Steven O’Donnell defended NASCAR, suggesting communication with spotters and with the pace car driver was fine, and that the race was about to be stopped before Busch wrecked.
Hamlin believes it never should’ve gotten to that point.
“We had a 30-second warning, or more, because there was cars that were sliding up the racetrack the lap before (the wreck),” he said. “And the rain had not slowed down, it had picked up. So, it was only gonna get worse, as you saw.
“You just rely on NASCAR to do their part, and that is to rely on the corner spotters to tell them when the surface is unsafe. … That’s what their job is to do. (NASCAR) can’t see from the tower. They can see the rain, but they don’t know how damp the surface is. That’s what the job of the corner official is, is to tell them that. Be interested to see what communication was being had between that 30-to-40-second period.”
If you watched the May 23 race at Circuit of the Americas, you know NASCAR at least needs to rethink it’s approach to inclement weather. Whether Sunday’s events will serve as impetus for change remains to be seen.