NASCAR: Dover Race Weekend Weather Forecast


If you read my forecast for the Coca Cola 600 forecast this time last week, you might remember that I closed with a look ahead to the next weekend at Dover and mentioned it would be a hot one.  Some other “NASCAR weathermen” aren’t willing to look that far into the crystal ball, but if you took my words to heart and stocked up on sunscreen and water (or perhaps extra “cold beverages”) for your trip to the Monster Mile this weekend, you did the right thing.

Sep 30, 2012; Dover, DE, USA; A general view of the statue of Miles the Monster before the AAA 400 at Dover Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The heat will undoubtedly be a hot topic in the garage this weekend, no pun intended.  Temperatures will be close to daily records not just during the day, but at night as well.  This will potentially make things interesting for crew chiefs and drivers, as they won’t likely have much if any notes to go by for setups in this kind of heat in Dover.  At a track this fast where handling is so important, I would guess this weekend will leave some teams shaking their head as to how to get their car tuned to the drivers’ liking.

The good news is there will be plenty of time to practice.  It is a busy weekend, with all three of NASCAR’s top tier series in town, and the Camping World Truck Series kicking things off today with their practice sessions.  Tomorrow will be the busiest day with Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series practice followed by Cup Series qualifying and finally the Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 Friday night, starting just after 5pm ET.

Temperatures will start off in the upper 70s Friday morning, but top out close to 90 degrees in the afternoon, peaking between 2pm and 5pm.  As they say in the South, it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity.  While not an overly humid pattern, there is going to be enough moisture in the air to make it feel a little hotter than 90.  By the end of the race, temperatures will have only cooled off to the middle 80s.  It will be sunny all day, so make sure you’ve got sunscreen with you and on you, and stay hydrated especially if you will be out in the sun all day.  Please take that seriously.  Heat stroke is no joke.  If you are hoping for a breeze, there will be a light one out of the southwest at 10-15 mph, but I wouldn’t count on it being too much of a “cool breeze”.

Expect more of the same for Saturday as the area remains under the influence of a warm southwesterly flow.  Morning low temperatures will be around 71 degrees and we’ll already be up to near 80 by the time Cup Series practice starts at 10am ET.  The Nationwide Series 5-Hour Energy 200 is set to kick off around 2:30pm ET, so they’ll be running right at the hottest point of the day with temperatures likely bouncing around between 87 and 90 degrees from flag to flag.  Mostly sunny skies will again be the rule, and winds will remain out of the southwest at about 10-15 mph.  Campers will once again have to deal with a warm and muggy night Saturday night, as temperatures will only drop into the low 70s by Sunday morning.

On Sunday, as hinted at a week ago, it won’t be just the heat we’ll have to contend with, but also perhaps some showers and thunderstorms.  A cold front will be approaching the area Sunday afternoon and evening, and some bad luck on the timing of this front could mean some rain issues for the Fed Ex / Autism Speaks 400.  At this point, however, I think the bulk showers and storms will hold off until the evening hours in Dover, allowing us to get the race in on time.  We’ll have to keep an eye on things in case any renegade showers form well ahead of the front, but to me this doesn’t quite look like the right setup to make that happen.

So assuming the rain holds off as expected, there won’t be anything except maybe a few more clouds to keep temperatures from soaring again.  I think we’ll see temperatures around 86 degrees at the drop of the green flag, and we’ll likely finish the race a degree or two warmer than that, with a daytime high in the upper 80s.  Winds will be a little stronger, around 13-18 mph, and again we’ll have a little more cloud cover, so it may not feel quite as bad Sunday as it will Friday and Saturday, but this is really splitting hairs.  For Dover standards especially, Sunday is another hot day.

Next weekend will feature another full weekend of NASCAR racing, but this time in three different locations.  The Cup Series will head to the “Tricky Triangle” that has proven to be difficult not just for drivers but for meteorologists as well (Pocono is one of those places that seems to get ripped off by Mother Nature).  Meanwhile the Nationwide Series will run at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, and the Camping World Trucks will be racing Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.  This time around I think we’ll be able to dodge the extreme temperatures (though “normal” temperatures in the Dallas area this time of year are still hot), but a trough of low pressure over the eastern half of the US will produce unsettled weather over a large area, and scattered showers and thunderstorms look like a possibility at each of the three tracks during the scheduled races.  A lot can change with this forecast, so be sure to check in with me next Thursday for the latest here at!