Everybody loves the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Everybody also loves short track racing, especially at night. Nobody loves rain.
Friday night’s Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway only ran for 91 laps before rain struck. After a lengthy wait, the race was moved to Sunday at noon.
Harrison Burton, who won the fall race in 2020, started on the pole ahead of Justin Allgaier. Burton led the first 52 laps, during which four cautions occurred: Jade Buford spun on lap four, the lap 25 competition caution, and Stefan Parsons and Michael Annett both suffered spins on laps 41 and 49.
Noah Gragson took the lead when the race resumed. On lap 58, Riley Herbst spun in turn four to trigger a multi-car accident that collected Brett Moffitt, Myatt Snider, and Tommy Joe Martins. The incident caused the first stage to end under yellow as Gragson took the stage win ahead of Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Brown, Snider, Jeremy Clements, J.J. Yeley, Jeffrey Earnhardt, and Bayley Currey.
The race resumed on lap 67 with Moffitt as the leader. Brandon Jones took the lead on lap 71 before losing the spot to Josh Berry seven laps later; Berry, who won the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 late model race at Martinsville in 2019, recorded his first career laps led in the Xfinity Series.
Reports of sprinkling began to circulate by lap 86. Jones overtook Berry for first on lap 88, just in time to remain the leader as the race was red flagged for rain shortly after.
The top ten at the time of the pause was Jones, Berry, Daniel Hemric, Moffitt, Jeb Burton, Ryan Sieg, Burton, Cindric, Gragson, and Allgaier.
The Air Titans were deployed before being withdrawn when the rain worsened. Lightning exacerbated matters as they resulted in thirty-minute delays. As the clock struck midnight and the race entered Saturday, so did lightning to force additional waiting. While some questioned why NASCAR had not called the race, the Cup Series race later in the day provided for logistical concerns in regards to Xfinity team haulers leaving in order to allow the Cup haulers into the infield.
“Now it’s really feeling like a Friday night short track race where the A main is ran after midnight,” quipped driver Jesse Little.
Additional rain prompted NASCAR to finally pull the plug on the night race shortly before 12:30 AM. The race will resume starting with lap 92 on Sunday at 12:25 PM.