By JENNA FRYER
The Associated Press
BRISTOL, Tenn. — NASCAR has postponed the Monster Energy Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway because of heavy rain that is not expected to let up on Sunday. The race was pushed until today at 1 p.m.
Weather has been a problem all weekend at Bristol, where Friday qualifications were washed out. On Saturday, the Xfinity Series race had a lengthy stoppage for rain.
Cup points leader Kyle Larson will start on the pole next to Chase Elliott.
Bristol officials this year applied a VHT resin to the track surface that is intended to enhance grip. But the nonstop rain has washed away most of the tire rubber accumulated through three practice sessions.
It’s unclear if both the preferred bottom lane and top line will work today. If only one lane works, it could turn into a throwback Bristol race in which bumping is the only way to pass a car.
Larson said he expected NASCAR to call a competition caution early in the first stage today to check tire wear.
“I’m sure we will all pit probably because it has shown a lot of tire wear on the left side, so I’m sure everybody will pit,” Larson said. “We will see if people take two or four or whatever, but it kind of just depends on what position you are in at that point if you are going to take two or four [tires].”
Five-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch called the rain “a blessing in disguise.”
“The track was talking about laying down more VHT and they can’t do it while it’s wet,” Busch said. “The VHT is like a grip applicator and you have to heat it up to make it work, so in the drag-racing world the guys do a burnout through it and you have that stripe that you just heat it up and that’s what has to happen for us oval guys. We have to have more cars out there to heat it up, so it’s going to be like ice when we first start off and then the grip will come back once we do heat it up after this rain.
“I’m hopeful that once we burn through some of that top surface, and we get through to where we’re starting to wear it away, then the outside groove will come into play. Hopefully, you’ll have a bottom and a top once it gets down to it.”