Mar 11, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; General view of fans in the stands during the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR: Race Weekend Weather Forecast

Just because it is a desert doesn’t mean it never rains- but when it does it doesn’t typically last very long.  Wet weather is making its presence known at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday morning, but brighter days are ahead.

A large, slow moving low pressure system sits off the coast of Southern California this morning, and Las Vegas is right underneath a deformation zone, which in weather nerd speak means there is a lot of “lift” in the atmosphere to produce rain, heavy rain at that.  And it’s a chilly rain, too, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, which I’m sure is making it feel pretty miserable to be outside.  In fact, just outside of the city in the surrounding mountains, up to 4-6″ of snow will fall through tonight.  Temperatures won’t change much today even through the afternoon hours… so don’t expect it to get any warmer today than it is right now.

Obviously, things aren’t looking good for any on-track activity today, at least through early afternoon.  The rain will wash out valuable practice sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams today, though the Sprint Cup teams did at least get some track time yesterday.  Sprint Cup qualifying is scheduled for 3:40pm local time today, and I think the rain will linger through that time, but I do see the rain possibly coming to an end by 4-5pm.  Because the track has lights, I suppose there’s a chance NASCAR could decide to try to qualify tonight after the rain ends, but in my experience they don’t normally put as much effort into trying to dry the track to get qualifying in unless the delay will be short.  In this case, if the rain doesn’t end until 5pm, they may decide it is too long after the scheduled start to avoid canceling it.

On to the good news…

Earlier this week, Saturday was looking a little iffy, but confidence is growing in a rain-free Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300.  The low pressure system currently southwest of the speedway will pass to the east overnight, and the last of any wraparound showers should be pushing east of the track by mid-late morning.  As of now, I think they’ll be able to get Nationwide Series qualifying in at 10am Saturday morning as scheduled, though we’ll have to keep an eye out for lingering moisture on the track which could cause a slight delay.  There will still be considerable cloud cover at the start of the race at 1:15pm, but I’m confident we’ll be dry by then.  Temperatures will be a damp and chilly 43 degrees in the morning, but warm into the middle 50s by the start of the race, and to an afternoon high of around 61 degrees.  Clouds will have a large impact on temperatures though… if they are slower to move out than expected, we may only make it to the mid 50s tomorrow afternoon.

On Sunday, the desert will live up to its name as full sunshine returns to Vegas.  The only weather concern for the Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 might be the wind, which will be up around 15 mph with gusts to 20-25 mph at times, out of the north-northeast.  Outright temperatures will be warmer during the day (after a still chilly morning low in the mid 40s), with a green flag temperature around 63 degrees and an afternoon high of 66, but just keep in mind that the breeze will make you feel a little cooler.

Next week, it’s back to the east and to the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 weekend.  This race has been known to cause issues for weather forecasters in the past, and an early look ahead at the forecast does present some potential challenges.  Be sure to check back in with us next week here at for the forecast!

Tags: Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR Nationwide Series Sprint Cup Series Weather Forecast

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