Racing in NASCAR is never going to be perfect. That's especially true when the weather can affect a race at any time at any of the venues the series races at. That was no different at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday's Quaker State 400.
As Sunday's race was getting started, NASCAR and all the teams were very aware of the potential of inclement weather hitting the racetrack before the scheduled 260 laps would be completed.
The race was able to reach the halfway point, which is always the goal for NASCAR races when weather is a factor. Following Stage 2, things really got interesting. Teams were banking on rain to come, which put drivers who are desperate to win and make the playoffs more on edge. That's mainly because no one had a clear idea of when the bad weather was going to hit.
The radar showed that precipitation was all around the area, and a number of drivers weren't too happy with what ended up happening.
William Byron was the lucky driver at the end of the day. He had the lead with 76 or so laps left in the race when a crash between Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece brought out the caution that eventually signaled the end of the race.
Here's where things got controversial for some fans and maybe even some of the drivers.
The race was still under the yellow caution, with the cars just driving around, as the weather started to look worse and the teams finally were called to pull cars onto the pit lane. Maybe 15 minutes passed before NASCAR made the call to end the race 75 laps short.
NASCAR Fans React To Controversial Ending
Social media was buzzing by that point, as fans who seem to never be happy no matter what occurs started chiming in.
Jeff Gluck, who covers NASCAR for The Athletic, asked on his Twitter page why everyone was complaining about the rain and NASCAR's decision, when everyone knew they were racing against the weather.
I'll be honest: I see a lot of you are pissed at NASCAR, but I'm not exactly understanding why. Everyone knew they were racing to the rain. Then it started raining with more closing in. Couldn't get restarted. It's going to rain for hours. So why is everyone so upset? Fill me in.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 10, 2023
He got plenty of backlash from fans. One, for instance, questioned why it was OK to race in the rain in Chicago, so why not Atlanta?
@Terryshutfup wrote , "Rain wasn't an issue in Chicago, so why Atlanta? NASCAR is never consistent. Lol!"
Other fans supported NASCAR's decision, as the rain clearly wasn't going to let up and was only going to get worse through the rest of the night. Most can agree that they didn't want to see a repeat of last season's Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, where the cars all raced into Turn 1 at full speed when it was raining.
One fan, @SteveParis2, totally agreed with his response to Gluck.
"For what it's worth. There was no way they were getting it back to racing anytime soon," Paris said. "People are upset about the pace laps but it was NASCAR making sure the track was safe. They didn't want another Daytona incident. I was actually fine with the pace laps, and the race up to that point was amazing, so I am ok with how it was handled. They would never of gotten back to green, it would have been 1 am."
It wasn't only fans who put in their two cents, as Denny Hamlin took to his podcast to discuss Sunday's outcome.
Do you agree with NASCAR for calling the race when they did? ??
— Dirty Mo Media (@DirtyMoMedia) July 10, 2023
On the new episode of "Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin," he at first questioned why they were running around under yellow for so long. But he also covered the fact that they didn't want to have another Daytona situation. Hamlin could see concern from both sides of the fence.
"At Daytona, we could all see it coming, because it was during the day," Hamlin said. "Atlanta it was going to drizzle before it rained and it did. But I think NASCAR is going to err on the side of more caution right now, because of that incident."
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR's vice president of competition, went on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to clarify Sunday night's "controversy." He said NASCAR knew the weather was a possible issue beforehand but thought it could get the whole race in.
?? "With the information we had leading into the event, we felt like we were gonna be in a good place there to get the entire distance in."
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) July 11, 2023
"With the information we had leading into the event, we felt like we were gonna be in a good place there to get the entire distance in," Sawyer said.
With the weather, you just never know. So if some fans are mad, it is what it is. It's all a judgment call. They deemed how they saw fit. Don't let a rain-shortened race take away how great the racing was at Atlanta on Sunday.
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