NASCAR rewarded for not making a knee-jerk Talladega decision

NASCAR very well could have made a schedule adjustment to Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, given the weather forecast.
GEICO 500, Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR
GEICO 500, Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

Leading up to Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the 10th of 36 races on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the weather forecast did not look promising whatsoever.

No Cup Series races had been significantly impacted by bad weather since the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway had to be postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain, but it appeared as though that could change with this weekend's 188-lap race around the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval.

It did not.

Going back to as late as Friday, The Weather Channel predicted a 90% chance of rain throughout the day on Sunday. With the GEICO 500 slated for a 3:20 p.m. ET start time, Talladega not having lights, and sundown set for 8:20 p.m. ET, it looked as though NASCAR would need to make some kind of a decision to alter the race schedule.

Some called for NASCAR to move the race up to Saturday, given the fact that the forecast was clear.

Before the season officially began with the Daytona 500, NASCAR ran their annual Busch Light Clash exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in early February. Due to the weather forecast, that race ended up being moved up by a day, and it was run on Saturday instead of Sunday.

The decision was viewed as unprecedented, given the fact that the weather-related schedule changes NASCAR makes are often postponements. On rare occasions, the start time for an event may be slightly moved up, but running a race a full day early simply doesn't happen.

Yet it proved to be the right decision. The rain ended up being torrential and lasting for several days, with flooding in the area of the stadium. Had it not been for that decision, that race probably would not have happened at all.

Because of that decision, the idea was floated that a similar move should be made for the GEICO 500. However, when it comes to a points race, that remains unlikely no matter the circumstance, and NASCAR has never given any true indication that this is feasible for such a major event.

Given the fact that the Talladega weather forecast was clear for Monday, there would have been no issue pushing it back by a day, if needed. Monday has always been the back-up plan for a rained-out Sunday race.

But now that the Saturday decision was made earlier this season, that has been on the minds of fans -- and justifiably so -- whenever a Sunday race looks like it may come under threat of storms. Yes, it was even brought up for the Daytona 500.

Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass explained how there could be legal issues involved with making such a decision.

In a separate tweet, he also noted that obvious: weather forecasts change. You cannot make a knee-jerk decision based on a weather forecast several days in advance.

NASCAR didn't do that, and despite the common belief that there was very little chance of Sunday's race actually happening on Sunday, their decision paid off. The race was run as scheduled, in its entirety.

Would NASCAR consider such a radical schedule change in the event that the forecast was bad for several days, as it was ahead of the Clash? It's possible.

But forecasts change, and even when they don't, we saw a few years ago that NASCAR delayed a race at Texas Motor Speedway by three whole days due to bad weather.

Even during a crucial part of the playoffs, an initially scheduled Sunday race was contested on Wednesday, giving teams and drivers far less time to prepare for the following weekend's semifinal round cutoff race at Martinsville Speedway.

Fans know when they purchase a ticket to an event that there is a risk of bad weather pushing it back. If you haven't attended a rained-out sporting event, you're in a very small minority.

But moving the event up by a full day adds a whole new layer to that equation, especially in the event that the conditions during the originally scheduled time end up being fine, like they were at Talladega.

Racing on Saturday simply wasn't an option at Talladega, and how the weekend unfolded goes to show exactly why it should not be one moving forward either.

Now NASCAR is set to head to Dover Motor Speedway, where three of the four most recent spring races have, in fact, been pushed back from Sunday to Monday due to rain.

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The Wurth 400 is scheduled to take place this Sunday, April 28, and it is set to be broadcast live from the Monster Mile beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 (weather permitting, of course). Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss any of the action!