Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:27 am
Rain's Potential Atlanta Arrival Puts NASCAR In Difficult Position
If you've been checking out the weather forecasts from the unofficial NASCAR
weathermanyou've seen that the outlook for Sunday night's Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is not good.
Meteorologist Brian Neudorff posted two different forecast models on his blog Saturdayand both have big time rain over Atlanta around the start time of the race.
And apparentlythat's just the beginning of it. The system contains moisture associated with Tropical Storm Leewhich is currently affecting New Orleans.
If part of the slow-moving Lee reaches Atlanta by Sunday nightthe forecast for Monday is also a washout. Could NASCAR see a Tuesday race on the week before the Chase cutoff in Richmond?
That's a worst-case scenario no one wants to think about. But NASCAR must be already considering its optionssince the forecast looks so grim.
One option NASCAR says it will not consider is moving up the start time of the race by several hours.
The primary reasonin NASCAR's viewis fans who are attending the race might not hear about the time change and therefore miss part of it – or all of it. That's a huge problem for fans traveling from long distances or who have planned their weekend around a 7:30 p.m. Start time.
Another reason is the TV contract. NASCAR and ESPN agreed on a 7:30 start timeand that broadcast window is already set.
Obviouslythose are valid reasons. But here's the thing: While starting the race early and perhaps racing to halfway would hurt some fansso would running a Tuesday race that even fewer could attend in person or even watch on TV.
If we all wake up on Sunday and the forecast says Lee is all but certain to arrive later in the eveningit's going to be painful to wait around all day while cars could have raced in dry conditions and then endure a rainout.
Of coursethere's also a chance forecasters could be wrong. And in that caseNASCAR would look bad by moving up the start time for no reason.
So it's not an enviable position in which officials find themselves. But there will be plenty of second-guessing if the rain comes Sunday night after a mostly dry day.