Umbrellas key tool for NASCAR Cup teams on sunny day at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – It was a curious sight Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.

A cloudless day and several umbrellas in the Cup garage shading … cars.

Such is the wacky world of racing. With temperatures in the lower 80s, the sun’s glare causes the Lexan windshields to expand enough that it can impact if a car passes inspection. In the past, teams had covers or even put ice on the windshields to keep them cool before such ploys were outlawed by NASCAR.

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So, teams grabbed all the umbrellas they had Friday and started shading the cars as if they were Hollywood stars walking the red carpet on a hot, sunny day.

Teams want the rear windshield to be as big as possible to try to take some air off the rear spoiler to gain speed, but the sun’s glare can make the windshield expand more than anticipated. Teams prep their cars in climate-controlled race shops and it can be challenging to factor how much the windshield might expand in the sun.

This is the second warm weekend of the season. Teams faced this issue at Circuit of the Americas but at that track, teams are not trying to have the rear windshield block any air to the rear spoiler. They want the downforce there and adjust the windshield accordingly. So, if it expands, it doesn’t come close enough to cause any issues in inspection.

Friday, three teams failed inspection twice. Those were the teams of Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Landon Cassill. All three teams lost pit selection. The teams of Stenhouse and Cassill had a car chief ejected. Truex’s team had an engineer ejected. Cassill’s car failed three times and will not be allowed to qualify. Cassill also will have to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag Sunday.

Here’s a look at what teams were doing Friday at Talladega to keep their windshields cool.

Cole Custer‘s crew shades his car with umbrellas as it goes through inspection at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo: Dustin Long)
Bubba Wallace‘s crew shades his car with umbrellas as it goes through inspection at Talladega. (Photo: Dustin Long)
The crews of Ty Dillon and Erik Jones shade their cars with umbrellas Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo: Dustin Long)
The crew for Martin Truex Jr.’s team shades his car during inspection April 22, 2022 at Talladega. (Photo: Dustin Long)