Fans endure Saturday downpours to watch NASCAR’s debut in Austin

Local Sports

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite Mother Nature’s attempts to put a damper on NASCAR’s grand debut in Central Texas, the rain couldn’t keep fans away from Circuit of the Americas on Saturday to watch both the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series races.

“It’s just awesome,” Robert Rich said. “Just hearing the engines, just seeing the cars, it’s insane to just be back [at a race].”

Rich lives in Dallas but drove down to Austin for the Texas Grand Prix. He tries to go to three races every year — the two at Texas Motor Speedway and one trip to a new track with his dad. But because of the pandemic, he hadn’t been to a race in person since November 2019.

While the rain was annoying, it wasn’t going to keep him from enjoying his first race in 18 months.

“It’s hard cause when you’re on TV, you obviously wanna see the guys racing in the rain, you wanna see them slipping and sliding,” Rich said. “It’s tough, it’s cool, really, on TV, but as a fan, it’s tough. We’re bringing our ponchos. It’s been raining a lot. But if you’re into it, you wanna see the racing, you live up to it. You deal with what you gotta deal with. I think it’s been worth it.”

This weekend’s races were set to be must-see TV for NASCAR fans, regardless. While road races have become more popular on the NASCAR calendar, this is a brand-new track for the drivers, and it was custom built for the open-wheel cars of F1.

Combine the weather with an unknown track, and it could make for a fun race.

“These guys are used to racing on ovals,” Rich said. “If you get rain at an oval, you’re gonna delay the race. At a road course, you’ve got the rain tires. These guys will maybe run on a rain tire once or twice a year if they’re lucky, so this is entirely new.”

“It’s kinda cool to see them get used to it cause this is not something that a NASCAR driver’s gonna be used to. So putting those rain tires on, it’s an entirely new experience for them. Seeing them slipping and sliding is really fun, as a fan.”

The Cup Series race, the main event of the weekend, is Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

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