A lot of fans and competitors have had this weekend circled on their calendars for quite some time. Talladega. As a long time fan, just saying the name gets me pumped up. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains this weekend for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 on Sunday, with the Camping World Truck Series Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday. Only one thing can keep this from being an incredible weekend of racing, but I think she’s going to cooperate for us.
May 6, 2012; Talladega, AL, USA; A general view of Talladega Superspeedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars make their way through the tri-oval during the Aarons 499. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Mother Nature will be throwing a cold front at Alabama this weekend, but the effects appear to be pretty minimal at worst, at least in terms of rain chances. Friday looks perfect for Truck Series qualifying and practice for both series. Skies will be sunny, with afternoon high temperatures in the low to mid 80s, and low temperatures Friday night/Saturday morning in the mid 50s… just cool enough at night for a campfire, but not so cold that you’ll wake up freezing in the middle of the night.
On Saturday, the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola is set to take the green flag at 4:10pm CT. At about the same time, a weak cool front will be passing overhead, and this will bring mostly cloudy skies to the area. I’ve been watching the computer models all week, and only one or two have shown even the slightest chance of showers along this front. Most of the available moisture for showers will be passing well to the north of Talladega, closer to the Tennessee border, and therefore, I don’t see any problems getting the Truck Series race in Saturday. The only concern I would have is that if there were to be an unexpected quick shower, with the race starting so late in the day and no lights at the track, there is actually a fairly short window of time available to hold this race in the daylight. Fortunately, I don’t think the probability of rain is any higher than 5-10% for Saturday afternoon, and I don’t think it will be an issue. The green flag temperature should be around 83 degrees, with temperatures cooling into the low to mid 70s by the end of the race.
If there really is going to be any rain at all this weekend at Talladega, it looks like it would more likely hit late Saturday night into Sunday morning. Even then, rain chances remain very low to non-existent, and I don’t expect any heavy rain. Temperatures may be a little chillier Sunday morning, with low 50s possible, so campers should be prepared for a colder start to the day. A second, stronger cold front will pass through by late Sunday morning, bringing much drier, cooler air into the region and also clearing out the clouds. By the time crews begin pushing the cars out to the grid, I think we’ll see partly cloudy skies, and we should be under full sunshine by the time the green flag drops.
The biggest change will be the temperatures, which will be much cooler than what teams practice in on Friday. It’ll be a good 15 degrees cooler than Friday with highs Sunday only in the upper 60s, and winds will be in the 10-15 mph range out of the north, with gusts possibly a little higher at times creating a headwind down the backstretch, and possibly having some impact in turns one and two where it’ll be an unobstructed crosswind. Green flag temperatures at 1pm CT should be near 67 degrees, and only drop a few degrees by the end of the race.
I’ll be keeping an eye on these fronts just in case, but expect great weather for this weekend’s races. It will be interesting to see if and how teams work the cooler temperatures into their race strategies and setups for Sunday. Next week, it’s a home track weekend for most of the teams as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head just down the street from their shops to Charlotte Motor Speedway, while the Camping World Truck Series takes a weekend off. Be sure to check in with us for the forecast! Enjoy the weekend.