This weekend, NASCAR heads just down the road from the shops of Charlotte,North Carolina to Martinsville, Virginia for Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series action, and the return to Dale Earnhardt, Jr to the driver’s seat. All is right in the world, right? Well, a currently ragged-looking but powerful Hurricane Sandy seems to want to try to put a damper on this weekend’s excitement, but the question is, will Sandy remain far enough away to keep the rain east of Martinsville Speedway?
Unfortunately, it is still a little too early to be sure. It all depends on the exact track of Sandy and whether we see a path through coastal Maryland or Delaware, over the DC area and toward the Great Lakes, or if it hits further north toward Long Island or New England and stays up there. The former scenario is the one currently being favored, since one normally reliable model has been consistent in showing a path into the Mid-Atlantic for days now. The tricky part is, even in this case where the storm tracks closer to Martinsville, it is uncertain just how far into Virginia the rain gets. The model I mentioned above, called the ECMWF or European model, shows the outer edge of the rain very close to the speedway, too close to call. Some other models allow drier air to get wrapped into the Martinsville area, and therefore show a lot of cloudiness, but little if any rain. Bottom line, we’ll have to wait and see, but yes, there is a chance of a washout on Sunday, but it is too early to throw in the towel.
So based on all this, here’s my forecast for Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500. I expect cloudy skies with periods of rain possible (if I had to use a percentage, which I don’t usually like to, I’d say the rain chance is near 50%). It’ll be chilly, with green flag temperatures near 58 degrees, and a breeze out of the north at 10-15 mph making it feel a little colder than that. Temperatures will hold in the 50s through the end of the race, if all goes well and we get to run it.
The forecast isn’t a whole lot more clear-cut for Saturday’s Kroger 200 either. Scattered showers are possible due to a combination of moisture on the far outskirts of Sandy and an approaching cold front. If afraid that we may also see some of that annoying, periodic light rain or drizzle that often visits Martinsville Speedway, and there could even be some fog issues. I’m not will to call this race a washout either, but there are some obstacles to get around before the Camping World Truck Series will be able to roll on Saturday afternoon. Temperatures will be better Saturday, with mid to upper 60s likely at the scheduled green flag time of 1pm ET.
If the schedule does get backed up, Monday and Tuesday don’t look a whole lot more promising if Sandy does track into Maryland and continue inland. One thing is for sure, temperatures will continue to drop early next week and won’t make it out of the mid 40s Monday and Tuesday. In fact snow showers will be likely in the higher elevations of western Virginia. Lets all hope we can squeeze these races in somehow this weekend, because weather conditions are going to be downright miserable in Martinsville by Monday.