Rain-shortened Atlanta NASCAR race was completely avoidable
NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron (24) wins the rain-shortened race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Rain-shortened Atlanta NASCAR race was completely avoidable

For the second consecutive weekend, Mother Nature interfered with NASCAR's plans on Sunday and forced the distance of Cup Series action to be altered. This time, William Byron was the beneficiary.

Byron was in the lead on Lap 179, when Ryan Preece and Bubba Wallace spun to bring out the caution flag. During the caution, it started raining and the field was brought to pit road, and the remainder of the race was soon called off.

It was a sour ending to one of the most exciting events of the season, and it was a position NASCAR should never have been in to begin with. They put themselves at much greater risk for this by running the race on Sunday night, as opposed to Saturday night, when Cup Series night races are usually run.

Had NASCAR run the race on Saturday, when it didn't rain, there would have been a larger built-in window for potential delays in the case of inclement weather. By racing on Sunday, they were forced to immediately call the event complete once it was put on hold.

NASCAR also botched the chance to let the race play out as long as possible. During the final caution period, it didn't start raining heavily until seven laps had already been run under yellow-flag conditions. There was more than enough time to have gone back racing again, even if only briefly.

Many will cite safety concerns as justification for NASCAR choosing to remain under caution with rain approaching. However, the sport of auto racing by itself is extremely unsafe — someone could just as easily get injured in a crash during completely dry conditions. You race for as long as you can, full stop.

Drivers want to race regardless of the conditions. Fans come to the track to see as much green-flag action as possible. That action was thrilling while it occurred, but NASCAR's poor execution robbed us of the opportunity for more of it.

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