NASCAR made the right call in the rain, now it's time to take off the kiddie wheels

nascar made the right call in the rain, now it's time to take off the kiddie wheels

A general view of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway during the USA TODAY 301.

Sunday's USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway saw an unexpected twist when rain came along just past two-thirds of the scheduled distance.

Despite speculation that NASCAR would call the event official, it waited things out and decided to complete the race using rain tires.

It was the right call, as fans got to stick around to see Christopher Bell win in a fun finish. However, NASCAR's overprotective decision-making regarding strategy in the rain needs to be addressed.

During each caution period following the nearly three-hour stoppage for rain, NASCAR mandated what teams were and weren't allowed to do on pit road. They were not permitted to change tires unless specified otherwise, in which case they were forced to, and they were additionally forced to stay on the rain tires as opposed to switching back to the normal ones, even as the track significantly dried off.

Furthermore, pit stops were non-competitive on each of the two occasions that tires were changed, meaning nobody gained or lost positions based upon how quickly their crews got the job done. It's the type of micro-managing, hand-holding, overprotective helicopter parent treatment from NASCAR that would be at least somewhat understandable if this were some unprecedented situation — but it's not.

NASCAR has had the option to use rain tires on short ovals ever since the start of the 2022 season, and scenarios such as this one have occurred before, including in Saturday's Xfinity Series race. That event started on wet tires before NASCAR threw a caution 12 laps in, mandating that teams switch to the normal ones as the track was deemed to be dry enough.

It's completely unnecessary, and robs teams of the opportunity for a strategical wrinkle as they decide which tires to use, or whether or not to change them. Fans deserve to see the race play out as naturally as possible, and virtually every other racing series has no problems letting teams make their own decisions in these situations.

Yet NASCAR, for reasons unknown, continues to feel the need to play Big Brother.

Make no mistake: NASCAR should be applauded for resuming Sunday's race, especially after last month's debacle in the Coca-Cola 600 in which the remainder of the event was called off following a delay, even though the track was nearly dry. Fans got to see an interesting turn of events that they wouldn't have seen otherwise, and many drivers were able to significantly improve their finishing positions.

That said, it's time to take off the kiddie wheels. These teams and drivers are grown adults, and they can make decisions like grown adults.

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