NASCAR seems to be having all sorts of trouble with weather this year. Rain proved to be a problem again on Sunday during the Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, forcing an early end to the Quaker State 400.
Was ending the race at Lap 185 due to rain the right move? Denny Hamlin weighed in on the decision on the latest episode of his "Actions Detrimental" podcast.
“My first question is, screw the rain, tell me where the lightning is. Because that’s what we always stop for first,” Hamlin said. “When we didn’t go back green — we were running under caution — I was like, ‘What are we doing?'”
Hamlin compared the situation in Atlanta to the one NASCAR faced at Daytona. At the popular Florida track, drivers were met with a downpour of rain. On Sunday, the inclement weather hit the track in stages.
“It was going to drizzle before it rained, and it did. But I think NASCAR’s just gonna err on the side of more caution now because of the incident at Daytona,” he said.
Because of NASCAR’s timing, William Byron claimed his fourth victory of the season. While he had a great run in the Quaker State 400, there was also an element of “right place, right time.” Byron chose not to pit under a caution flag, a strategy that resulted in another checkered flag.
“Should William have won the race? I mean, I think it was just because he stayed out, right?” Hamlin said. “I don’t know, I don’t know the answer to that. Certainly we’ve had some finishes that the order got mixed up because of rain. So, I’m not sure.”
Hamlin clarified his comment, saying Byron had a car strong enough to get the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday anyway. But NASCAR’s timing and decision to call the race certainly aided his efforts, as well.
After the race, Byron talked about the strategy to remain on the track.
“It’s cool, man,” Byron said, per NASCAR.com. “We went through so much throughout the night – spinning through the infield, destroyed the bottom of the car dragging it around the apron trying to stay on the lead lap. At that point, you just don’t have the grip, so I was real edgy back in traffic, but Rudy made a good call to pit there and then stay out.
“Once we got towards the front, it was OK. We could make the right decisions, block OK, and I got the lead from AJ and was able to manage the run. Just a crazy night.”