25 April 2015
NASCAR: Rain forces Richmond Cup race postponement
Persistent rain at Richmond International Raceway has forced NASCAR to postpone Saturday night's Sprint Cup race to Sunday afternoon.
Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway has been postponed to Sunday because of persistent rain in the Virginia area, NASCAR has confirmed.
There had been hopes that the inclement weather would break in the evening, but as the day went on it was clear that track drying would not be able to begin until 8 or 9pm local time at the earliest.
Although the race had already been set to run under floodlights at the three-quarter-mile track, and there was no local curfew in effect by which time the event would need to be completed, the high humidity and low temperature meant there would almost certainly be problems with heavy mist and drizzle that would delay the race until well into the night when rain was set to return to the area.
As a result, track and race officials decided to make an early call that the race was being posponed until tomorrow. It is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup rain out since last July's race at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR will now attempt to get the race underway as near as possible to 1pm local time on Sunday when the forecast is still for showers but nothing as persistent as Saturday's wet weather, meaning there is a good chance that the race will get underway and run at least half of the 400-lap race distance to make it official without everyone being forced to come back again on Monday.
The fact that the scheduled night race will now become an afternoon event means that the set-ups the teams have been working on for their cars will have to be adjusted after the race gets underway. NASCAR has said that there will be a competition caution at lap 50 to allow teams to evaluate tyre wear on the green surface.
"When this place gets the rubber washed off of it, it is really, really fast for a little bit," explained Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson. "But then it wears out tyres quicker. You have to think about that kind of stuff ... The track will change a whole bunch throughout the whole race."
"I don't have a really good handle or feel on how this track changes from day to night during a race and all that, so [crew chief] Jason [Ratcliff] probably does a lot better than me," said Matt Kenseth, who won last week's Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "For me, it's always kind of a guess.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to get when the race starts," he admitted. "Whenever I'm pretty confident I know what the track is going to do, it seems like my car goes the other way. Just kind of leave that up to Jason and the guys to figure out."
Penske's Joey Logano will start the race from pole position, and he will be joined on the front row for the green flag by Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin. Hamlin led all but two laps of Friday night's Xfinity Series race at Richmond 24 hours earlier on his way to victory lane, with Logano running almost the entire race in second place.
"It is tough a lot of times because you have your whole routine in the morning you go through with appearances and drivers meeting and do all your stuff and then you sit and wait," Logano said.
"At that point you start to relax again," he continued. "It just changes a little bit. It is like any other athlete. You get in your mode and do the same thing every week before the race or before a game and when it rains it kind of throws you off a little bit.
"Usually by the time you get back in the car, they give you enough warning the race is about to start and you get your head back straight again and off you go. Usually it isn't that big of an effect for what we do."
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