Should NASCAR race in the rain or not?

September, 1, 2009

You can't have it both ways, folks.

I received some e-mails from fans who thought NASCAR made a bad decision Sunday to complete the Montreal Nationwide Series race in wet conditions on rain tires -- leading to numerous wrecks -- instead of calling the race, since it was past the halfway point.

Some of those same people complained earlier this year about NASCAR not racing to the scheduled distance and asking why they don't race in the rain.

So which is it? Race on wet pavement or call it a day?

NASCAR president Mike Helton and all the NASCAR officials should be commended for completing the event at Montreal. It was the right thing to do for a large and enthusiastic crowd in attendance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course.

It wasn't a good thing for some of the competitors who wrecked trying to navigate through the turns on the wet track.

The ending didn't work out well for Kyle Busch, who went from having a chance to win to finishing 10th after wrecking on the final restart.

"I hate that we didn't finish where we ran," Busch's crew chief Jason Ratliff told reporters after the race. "But we knew the potential [for racing in wet conditions] could happen."

Some of the wrecks had nothing to do with the weather. Many were the product of the double-file restarts on a tight road course.

Either way, that's the chance you take. A competitor has to deal with the conditions. Carl Edwards certainly made the most of it, and won. Some drivers used it to their advantage; some didn't.

"It was a matter of surviving," said Canadian Jacques Villeneuve -- who has raced in the rain in Formula One, and finished fourth Sunday -- to reporters after the race. "When I saw the rain coming I was happy because I thought I could make up a few positions."

Like it or dislike it, racing with rain tires on road courses probably isn't coming to Cup any time soon. Helton said Sunday on the telecast that the Cup cars have less downforce, making it more difficult to gain grip on wet asphalt.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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