Although the National Weather Service has predicted the strong possibility of severe storms across central Alabama Saturday, Talladega Superspeedway officials said Friday they hope to run Saturday’s track schedule as planned.
Track and NASCAR officials considered the possibility of announcing a postponement of Saturday’s activities Friday because of the severe weather forecast. Officials held one morning and two afternoon meetings with National Weather Service representatives to discuss the situation.
Saturday’s forecast includes an 80 percent chance of precipitation along with strong storms and wind. There is the potential, according to the NWS, of “a major tornado outbreak across Central Alabama.”
Saturday’s track schedule includes qualifying for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup race and the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race. A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected at the track for Saturday’s race, but many more are camping in the speedway vicinity with plans to attend Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. More than 100,000 people could be impacted by potential weather problems.
“We’ll be closely monitoring everything tomorrow,” said Grant Lynch, Talladega Superspeedway chairman. “We’ll be on high alert watching the weather as it moves up from the south. It’s going to be a hit-and-miss situation.”
NASCAR official Jim Hunter said if the Nationwide race is postponed by weather Saturday it would be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Sunday or on Monday.
Lynch said weather officials told him there is the possibility of one to five inches of rain falling in the track vicinity Saturday. But there also is the possibility of sunshine, he said, and the severe weather could bypass the track.
Hundreds of Alabama state troopers and many emergency services personnel and vehicles will be on speedway property during the weekend.
“The decision was made somewhat easier for us because a huge percentage of our crowd is already here,” Lynch said. “They’re going to be here whether we run this race or not. We will tell them to take precautions and secure everything at their campsites that could blow around. They have to take the necessary precautions that they deem reasonable.”
There are no shelters of significant size in the speedway area.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.
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