Craig Murto: You can’t control the weather

CRAIG MURTO

 

IndyCar had a rough time at Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend.

First the race got rained out on Saturday, mostly because so much rain had fallen that the track developed “weepers.” The ground was so saturated underneath the track that the groundwater kept coming to the racing surface at spots. And the jet dryers used to dry the surface actually had the effect of drawing more groundwater onto the track.

On Sunday, crews were still trying to solve the weeper issue at the time the race was scheduled. Finally the event got restarted.

After close to 50 thrilling laps of a scheduled 248-lap race on the 1.5-mile circuit, Connor Daly and Josef Newgarden crashed spectacularly. Newgarden’s car actually punched a hole in the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier. As crews worked to patch the SAFER barrier, rains came again.

You can’t control the weather. Texas has been hit hard with rain and flooding in recent weeks. More rain meant more time would be spent solving the weeper problem. The track and IndyCar received some criticism from fans, but there is nothing else that could have been done.

It’s also difficult to reschedule when many of your drivers have prior commitments, such as the need to be in France for practice leading to this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The decision was made to reschedule the race until Aug. 27, at which time it will resume on lap 71. Some have suggested that they simply run the race again from the beginning, but there’s nothing in the rulebook to allow that. Perhaps IndyCar will reconsider; they could award half points for the 71 laps already complete. Then they could allow free admission to the Aug. 27 race and try to drum up more interest in the series. Hopefully it won’t rain.

It was bright and sunny at Michigan for the NASCAR race. It appears the low-downforce aerodynamic packages NASCAR experiments with are working. Drivers have to drive their cars, and have to spend time out of the throttle in the corners. The rules are headed in the right direction.

On dirt tracks, drivers actually use the throttle to help steer the car. Dennis Erb Jr. steered his way to his first dirt Late Model “crown jewel” event win last weekend when he won The Dream in Eldora, Ohio. Past winners of the $100,000 prize include Scott Bloomquit, Freddy Smith, Donnie Moran, Billy Moyer, Matt Miller and Rick Eckert.

The Appalachian Mountain Speedweek Series for dirt late Models wrapped up at Hagerstown (Maryland) Speedway last weekend. Dan Stone took the win, followed by Marvin Winters, Jason Covert, Austin Hubbard and Rick Eckert. Meanwhile at Winchester Speedway, Robbie Black won the Limited Late Model feature in his first start at the track this season. Kris Eaton won the Crate Late Model race. At Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Nick Smith grabbed the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car win from Jeff Oakley in a green-white-checker finish.

The Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS), sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), will be at West Virginia’s Summit Point Motorsports Park on Saturday and Sunday. SCCA races are technically amateur events, but many current professional racers graduated from the SCCA ranks. And this weekend’s MARRS event promises to attract some racers from other regions.

Tickets at the gate are $15, and children under age 12 are free of charge. Free tent camping is available at the track, so technically you could pay your $15 on Saturday, pitch your tent and stay all weekend.

There really is nothing like waking up at 8:30 in the morning to the sound of cars on the track for the first practice session. And SCCA has numerous classes of cars, so the racing machinery is never boring. Summit Point is a fun and unique experience for fans, who have access to the paddock.

And if you’ve ever thought of becoming more than a fan, there should be plenty of SCCA officials at the track who can share information on how you can become a competitor or an official.

And the best part about Summit Point and SCCA racing is that they’ll race in the rain.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.

 

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