NASCAR's rain-delayed Cup race at Martinsville to be finished on Sunday
By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – With the NASCAR Xfinity race that started on Friday night suspended until Sunday afternoon, NASCAR had hoped to get the Cup Series race in as scheduled on Saturday night at Martinsville Speedway.
It got it started, but it didn’t get it finished.
Cup drivers were scheduled for 500 laps Saturday around the 0.526-mile paper-clip-shaped Martinsville oval. They got in 42 laps before rains forced the suspension of that race, creating a doubleheader Sunday.
The Xfinity race will resume on Lap 92 (of 250) at noon ET, followed by the Cup race resuming on Lap 43 at 4 p.m. Both races will be live on FS1.
At least the forecast is favorable for Sunday as the National Weather Service predicts a 20 percent chance of rain.
NASCAR’s policy is not to start a race that it doesn’t plan to finish. Once a race gets started, NASCAR will do its best to get to an official race, which is halfway or the end of the second stage, whichever comes first. For the Cup race at Martinsville, with stages of 130 laps, 130 laps and 240 laps, the race would be official if Lap 250 has been completed (the end of the second stage is Lap 260).
After it rained in the early evening on Friday, it took NASCAR an hour to dry the shortest asphalt oval on the circuit.
Xfinity drivers completed 91 laps on Friday before persistent rains returned and forced NASCAR to schedule the resumption of the race for noon Eastern on Sunday. NASCAR typically would have rescheduled the race for late Saturday morning or early afternoon, but because it made the call around 12:30 a.m. ET on Friday, it opted not to ask teams (which were planning to drive the two-plus hours to their base in the Charlotte area after the event), broadcast partners and others to return mid-morning to resume the race on Saturday.
NASCAR and Goodyear did conduct a test with wet weather tires on April 1 at Martinsville. While getting a favorable response from drivers Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher, there never was a plan to have those tires ready for this weekend. Needing 250-300 sets of tires for Xfinity and Cup, and needing time to construct and mount the tires on wheels, the earliest those tires could be available for flat, short tracks is likely this summer.
NASCAR typically tries to race on Saturday night, instead of its usual Sunday, on the weekend of the Masters golf tournament. All the races from Martinsville are scheduled to be telecast on FS1.
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!