Editor’s Note: Readers it is with great pleasure I introduce you to Mike Fuori our newest staff member at Beyond the Flag. Mike is a proven meteorologist who will be providing weather forecasts each and every weekend for you race fans and especially for you fans who are heading out to the track!
In my first post here on Beyond the Flag, we look ahead to this weekend’s NASCAR events, and unfortunately weather will once again be a factor not just for the competitors, but for the fans attending Watkins Glen International. Severe thunderstorms have already rolled through the track area Thursday night, and more may be on the way on Friday. The good news… yes there is some good news… is that I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Friday looks to be another stormy day in Watkins Glen, at least off and on. A strong low pressure system will swing through the lower Great Lakes, and the road course will be located within an area of warm, moist air that will be conducive for thunderstorm development. I do think that the storms will be scattered, which may allow for some track activity, but I think overall it will be wet more than it is dry. Severe weather is again going to be a possibility, so if you are a die-hard like me and will be there rain or shine, just be sure that you have a plan in place should severe weather threaten. Remember that the safest place to be in a thunderstorm is inside a sturdy structure and away from windows, but campers without easy access to this kind of shelter should get in their cars and wait out the storm. Only practice sessions are scheduled for Friday- qualifying for both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series will be held on Saturday, but that may mean little to no track time for the teams before they get out for qualifying.
This is where the better news begins. Saturday looks much drier, however a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms will have to remain in the forecast for the morning and afternoon as low pressure lingers just to the north and west of the track. Given the packed schedule, with Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series qualifying taking place at 9:35am and 11:40am respectively, and the Nationwide race starting at 2:15pm, I will be a bit surprised (but happy of course!) if there are no interruptions of track events, but I do believe we’ll get an official race in. The Nationwide Series of course has used rain tires before, so that will be an option, but I think in this case any showers will be brief enough that they won’t actually bother driving in it… so worst case scenario may be just a brief red flag to let the storm pass, and then NASCAR would have to decide if it is worth putting the rain tires on while the track dries out.
So how about Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355? For this one, I expect no weather issues except perhaps some gusty winds which may make it tougher for fans to keep their tailgating items from leaving the campsite, but other than that we look clean and green for the Sprint Cup Series race. To keep your favorite adult beverage from flying away, you just might have to chug those last few sips and get a new heavier one! With the element of uncertainty that may come from teams not having much track time before the green flag drops, I think this will be a great race to watch.
What about temperatures, you ask? Here’s the weather rundown for this weekend’s qualifying and races.
Saturday, 9:35am: Nationwide Series Qualifying – Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of an isolated shower. Temperature around 71 degrees.
Saturday, 11:40am: Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of an isolated shower or thunderstorm. Temperature around 77 degrees.
Saturday, 2:15pm: Nationwide Series Zippo 200 – Partly to mostly cloudy with a slight chance of an isolated thunderstorm. Green flag temperature around 80 degrees.
Sunday, 1:00pm: Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 – Partly cloudy and breezy. Green flag temperature around 72 degrees, rising to the mid 70s by the end of the race.
This Houston, Texas resident is jealous. Enjoy the weather on Sunday, but be safe if you have to be at the track on Friday!