With chase race number one in the books, we head to Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend for the Sylvania 300. Forecasting the weather for New Hampshire Motor Speedway has proved to be tricky at times over the years, and this weekend does have a speed bump that we’ll need to cross before we can see who takes race two of the chase on Sunday. Meanwhile, the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series will be running at Kentucky Motor Speedway under the lights on Friday and Saturday night, and they may have a few weather obstacles of their own to deal with. Here’s what I am expecting for NASCAR race weekend.
July 15, 2012; Loudon, NH, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers make their way through turn one and two during the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
Starting with Friday night’s Kentucky 201 for the Camping World Truck Series, this is the most problematic forecast of the weekend. A large upper level low pressure system will begin to swing through the Great Lakes region Friday, with a cold front diving through Chicago and Indianapolis and heading toward Kentucky. The race is scheduled to start at 7:30pm, and that’s right about the time I think scattered showers will become possible. Timing is key, and the greatest chance for rain appears to be a little later in the evening, just after the end of the race if it goes as scheduled, but if the showers sneak in before the race starts or before they have a chance to make it to halfway, I think there will be enough follow-up showers to put an end to the racing for the night. Otherwise, expect mostly cloudy skies with afternoon high temperatures in the mid 70s on Friday, cooling through the 60s during the race.
On Saturday, the forecast for Kentucky Motor Speedway improves in time for the Kentucky 300 Nationwide Series race, which is scheduled for 4:00pm. Another disturbance will pass through the area, but moisture looks to be more limited around the speedway, with showers likely remaining well to the north. Winds will pick up as the day wears on and that will make it feel a little cooler, but afternoon highs, which should coincide with the start of the race, will still be around 72 degrees. Look for temperatures to cool down a little quicker as night falls versus Friday night, with temperatures dropping into the low 60s by 8pm, and lows Saturday night and Sunday morning dropping all the way into the low to mid 40s for anyone who plans to stay the night!
The same upper level low pressure system and cold front that will bring the chance of showers to Kentucky Friday night and early Saturday morning will pass through the Loudon, New Hampshire area early Sunday morning. Earlier this week, weather models weren’t very promising for Sprint Cup racing on Sunday, but things look much better now. I don’t think the rain will create any delays for Sunday’s Sylvania 500, but morning showers could wash the rubber off the track, and force NASCAR to throw a competition caution early in the race. Showers look to end by around 8-10am in the morning, winds will pick up and shift around to the west, and cooler and drier air will begin filtering into the area. Forecast high temperatures for the day are in the upper 60s, but there is a chance that it never gets much warmer than 62-64 degrees during the day, so be prepared for a bit of a nip in the air, especially with that westerly breeze. I’m calling for a green flag temperature around 65 degrees, with temperatures falling to around 61 degrees by the end of the race under partly cloudy skies.
So at worst, I think there is some risk that the Camping World Truck Series may have to run some laps on Saturday before the Nationwide race, but everyone will get their races in this weekend. If you are planning on attending the race on Sunday in Loudon, just make sure you’ve got a jacket, and enjoy race two of the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. See you next week as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide crews head to Dover, and the Camping World Truck Series hauls off to Vegas!