Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day letdown at Atlanta

The 2011 NASCAR season started splendidly with six months of near-perfect weather every week, but that came crashing to an end in the second half of the season.

Hardly a practice session was disrupted by rain in what was one of the longest stretches of good weather in recent NASCAR history, but qualifying was washed out in Kentucky in July and the rain began to infest race weekends on a more regular basis.

Rain interrupted the August race at Pocono for nearly two hours before it caused the entire race to be postponed the following week at Watkins Glen until Monday.

Cancelling qualifying is a bummer, and rain delays during a race make for a long day, but both are better than what Tropical Storm Lee dumped on the holiday weekend race at Atlanta.

Intense rain storms made for a surreal evening and crushed sporting events throughout the country. Lightning even struck the football stadium at West Virginia University during a game against Marshall.

Unfortunately, the rain this weekend couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

Atlanta Motor Speedway now has only one race a year, and the Labor Day race has always been one of NASCAR’s premier events.

Every thing was set for a nice evening of racing to be followed by a holiday, where many people don’t have to get up for work the next day. Then the rain came down in buckets.

The worst part is the race has been postponed for two days because more and more rain is expected Monday. The race has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Many people might be upset the race has been pushed back all the way to a work day even though there was a buffer day with the holiday on Monday, but NASCAR didn't have much of a choice.

The fun choice may have been to wait the rain out Sunday night and have an overnight race if there was ever a long enough break in the rain to run some laps.

NASCAR certainly didn’t want the circumstances to come together. The television ratings are going to be terrible as most people are back at work, and who knows what the attendance numbers will look like. They likely will be way down because many fans came to the track as part of the extended weekend and won’t be able to add an extra day to their vacation.

So, what should have been one of the better weekends on the NASCAR schedule turned into one of the most frustrating as the rain has once again caught up with the sport.

Thankfully, the weather has been better at tracks throughout the schedule for much of the year. Hopefully that pattern returns for the final stretch of the season so we don't have to sit through more nights like Sunday.

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