Christopher Bell (20) leads at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

Wet-Weather Finish ‘Fun’ & A ‘Success’

LOUDON, N.H. — Wet-weather tires were the story of the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race started on the specially made tires, while the final 82 laps of Sunday’s Cup Series event following a two-hour rain were completed with rain tires.

The racing was competitive and the drivers for the most part were complimentary of how the tires performed, while NASCAR officials called the experience a “huge success.”

Race winner Christopher Bell was particularly enthused.

“Yeah, they’re just a lot of fun,” Bell said. “What we’ve lost in the Next Gen car of being able to slide the car around and run the car really loose, yeah, I can’t describe it better than that, but we get that back on the rain tires.

“Whenever the track is damp, you’re able to slide the car around more and drive it hanging out more, drive it on the right rear more. It’s a lot of fun doing that for sure.”

Bell felt like the tire and the racing that resulted provided an entertaining result.


“For NASCAR to run in the rain like that — or not in the rain, but run in the damp conditions on an oval, I mean, it ended up being hopefully a good show,” Bell continued. “You can answer that more than me, but I had a blast. It made it different.

“That’s what the key is to having successful races and entertainment. Hopefully that was entertaining because it was something different, something new, and nobody knew what to expect and what to do. The guys that figured it out the quickest were the most successful.”

And many of those, like Bell, came from a dirt racing background.

“Yeah, it was fun. I think when it’s like that, I think that is why you see a lot of the dirt racers kind of migrate to the front,” said Kyle Larson, who finished fourth. “Just tried to feel it out under caution. It’s not my best bet on the restart to go extremely low, but it worked out and I was able to maintain track position the rest of the race, so I am proud of that.”

Chase Briscoe, another dirt veteran, rallied from deep in the field to finish second thanks to the wet-weather tires.

“What a whirlwind. Two hours ago, we couldn’t even run 25th,” Briscoe said. “The rain saved us. Just an awesome recovery for our Zep Ford. I always joke that this is one of my worst race tracks so to run second is kind of surprising to be honest with you. The rain definitely helped us. If it wasn’t for the rain we were going to literally run 24th probably.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. splashed his way from mid-pack to finish seventh, his second straight top-10 finish.

“Our day was all over the place. We were really bad on dry tires and just struggled all day. And then when we went to the wet weather tires, we had really good runs. We struggled a little bit, but there at the end, we got our No. 47 Kroger/Kleenex 100 Years Chevy really good. We were able to battle back from 25th and drive up into the top-10. We made the most out of it, which was really cool.”

The result was exactly what NASCAR was hoping for when it made rain tires available for ovals beginning last season — start and finish races in wet conditions.

“The vision for the wet-weather tires was to get a race started on time, which we did yesterday with the Xfinity cars and today if we had a rain delay, which we did, to get back racing as soon as we could and we accomplished that,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer. “Huge success today.”