Once again, NASCAR had to make the difficult decision to call a race early. On Sunday, the Quaker State 400 ended on Lap 185 due to inclement weather and William Byron took home the checkered flag, his fourth of the year.
NASCAR’s decision to start the race on time despite knowing rainy weather was on the horizon drew some ire from fans. But Elton Sawyer, the senior vice president of competition, said that NASCAR believed it could get the race in without making an adjustment to the green flag time.
“The initial forecast looked like we were probably 10-10:30 gonna get that weather,” Sawyer explained on SiriusXM NASCAR. “So, at that point, we felt like starting when we did, three-hour race, we should be OK and not need to move that up. And there’s a lot of things that go into that decision making and plans that need to change.
“Hindsight, yes, after the event you say, ‘Yeah, we should have (moved the race up).’ With the information we had leading into the event, we felt like we were gonna be in a good place to get the entire distance in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
"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
More from #NASCAR SVP Elton Sawyer on officiating with weather in the area, pit road procedures and no caution calls on the SXM App pic.twitter.com/BZnztBK9bA
Poor weather has impacted a number of races on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit this year. Last week, the league shortened the Chicago Street Race because of rainy conditions, as well.
Hamlin said it was kind of a unique situation, given the forecast in Atlanta.
“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?’
“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.”
Hamlin was sure to mention that Byron had a car strong enough to win the Quaker State 400 on Sunday. However, he did state that the driver’s victory in the shortened race came because of a strategic decision regarding the weather.
“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.”