MARTINSVILLE, Va. – As thousands of fans settle into Martinsville for another NASCAR weekend, there are questions about how snow could impact the races.
As of Friday afternoon, Storm Team 10 meteorologists predict snow could start falling Saturday morning and total 5 or more inches, but should wrap up Sunday morning before the cup series race, the weekend’s main event.
The STP 500 is scheduled to start Sunday at 2 p.m.
Martinsville Speedway public relations director Brooks Taylor said crews are prepared for the snow.
“We’re planning on everything going off according to schedule and in the event we get weather we’ll adjust as it comes, but we’re ready for it,” he said.
Truck drivers practiced Friday on the track under sunny skies without a problem, but the schedule this weekend may see changes. The truck series race and other practice and qualifying sessions could be affected tomorrow.
“We’re very optimistic, not just about the forecast, but also for the event. We’ll have everything ready,” Taylor said.
Fans could be dealing with snow in the stands and on the grass parking lots as they arrive.
“We’ve got plans in place for parking lots, for the roads to the track, grandstands, and if we have to use them, we will,” Taylor said.
Crews said because the forecast calls for the snow to end before Sunday’s race starts there's reason to think that the race will take place Sunday, even if it’s delayed into the night.
“We can go all night. We’ve got lights, and we’re not scared to use them,” Taylor said.
Drivers we talked to said the weather could drastically shift their strategy.
“The snow might change a lot. If we get delayed in qualifying and the starting grid gets mixed up, I think everyone is going to have to make a lot of changes,” truck series driver Kyle Donahue said.
VDOT spokesman Jason Bond said they’re keeping their eye on Martinsville, but can’t pre-treat the roads because of the chance of rain.
It's not often that snow threatens a NASCAR race, but it has happened. The most notable delay was when a large snowstorm pushed a race back nearly a week in Atlanta in 1993.