Sunday’s playoff race at Martinsville Speedway will have major championship implications as the Round of 8 begins, and the playoff drivers could have a unique challenge presented to them for the race.
There has never been a night playoff race at Martinsville, but bad weather could force race officials to move the event from the afternoon to the evening. As of now, there is a 70 percent chance of rain on Sunday morning and into the afternoon, and there’s a 10 percent chance of rain on Sunday night.
The weekend is different than normal races since drivers will practice on Saturday, and qualifying for the race is Sunday morning. Rain could delay qualifying and force officials to move it back to later in the day, which would lead to a late start for the race.
A $5 million lighting system was added to Martinsville Speedway this season, so the track is equipped to handle a night race. The lighting was implemented as an insurance policy for the track in case of something like inclement weather, and it might come in handy on Sunday.
Kevin Harvick, who made it into the Round of 8, told Motorsport it will be a challenge for the playoff drivers because they won’t know what to expect.
“It’s a very complicated weekend looking at all the different scenarios that you have going on,” Harvick said. “Usually when there is rain at Martinsville, we just figure we’ll go up there and race on Monday, but now they have lights. So, if it does get delayed, we may have to run at night. The biggest issue with that is all of our practice will be run on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a cool weekend up there, which typically means that the track won’t have a lot of rubber on it because the track won’t take a lot of rubber if it’s cold. Martinsville is a pretty finicky race track when it comes to temperature and rubber on the race track.”
Drivers and teams will be put into unique and uncomfortable positions this weekend, which could lead to a fascinating race as the Round of 8 begins.