NASCAR at New Hampshire weather updates: USA Today 301 halted as rain, lightning spill onto track

No race proves tougher to predict than the one against time.

On Sunday, time was of the essence to NASCAR’s best and brightest talents. The USA Today 301 promised to be an enticing watch, especially with Cup Series stars Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, and Michael McDowell all putting themselves in position to capture an all-important win at Loudon during the final stage.

The hope for a barnburner finish came to a sudden halt, however, as a devastating mix of rain, lightning and the threat of tornadoes turned the last frame into a ticking time bomb.

Weather routinely plays a role in determining the results of Cup Series races. This weekend was no exception, with the starting grid being determined not by drivers’ prowesses on the track during qualifying, but rather by position in the postseason standings.

In an effort to limit the rain’s influence on Sunday’s proceedings, NASCAR opted to re-schedule the race for an earlier, more weather-friendly start time of 2:06 p.m ET. It didn’t do much in the end, however. At least not when the rain started to flow onto the surface.

The Sporting News is tracking live weather updates from the USA Today 301 in New Hampshire. Follow below for the latest news regarding the status of Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

NASCAR at New Hampshire weather updates

6:50 p.m.: Cars have returned to the track and are circling the wagons under caution. We’re going to get more racing!

6:45 p.m.: Engines have been retired.

6:28 p.m.: Bubba Wallace has jokes…

6:25 p.m.: Still some work to be done. NASCAR officials are attempting to suck up the standing water off the track.

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6:20 p.m.: Will the weather hold up again?

6:15 p.m.: Teams are being told to place their wet weather tires on.

6:10 p.m.: The air dryers are returning to the surface. NASCAR has about two hours left of sunlight to work with. But lightning delays do mean they can’t return to the track until 6:24 at the earliest.

6:00 p.m.: It seems NASCAR is opting to return to the course and attempt to dry the track as the rain begins to settle down.

5:30 p.m.: Oh dear, it looks like we haven’t even seen the worst of it. It’s also a good time to remind folks that there aren’t light on the track, so today’s race would likely have to end at nightfall at the latest (if it were to continue).

5:15 p.m.: Plenty of confusion over whether NASCAR should’ve used the wet tires prior to the intensifying of the rain. Perhaps they could’ve gotten a few more laps done with before bringing out the red flag once and for all.

5:10 p.m.: Lightning has touched down within eight miles of the track. That resets the clock for a potential return to action.

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5:01 p.m.: The track is now under severe thunderstorm delay. One look at the radar and it’s easy to see why.

5:00 p.m.: Rain picking up on the track. Our long national nightmare continues.

4:55 p.m.: Lightning isn’t here yet. But it’s coming. If it were to touch down on New Hampshire, it would bring an additional 30 minute delay, not to mention the amount of time it would take to dry the track, which likely wouldn’t happen until the lightning delay ended.

4:45 p.m.: Drivers already headed to their motorhomes and garages, further adding to the delay if they were called back into their chariots.

4:40 p.m.: Rain starting to pool on the track. Each car is cloaked by a rain cover. However, something to look out for.

4:32 p.m.: RED FLAG! The red flag has been brought out as rain begins to descend onto the track. The main storm system is yet to arrive at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. However, it seems the precipitation will prove an obstacle for drivers. Wet tires might need to be used, although it’s unclear whether drivers will return to their cockpits entirely. Watch this space…

At present, Tyler Reddick is the race leader. 

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