NASCAR competition officials said they plan to hold a test session Thursday at Martinsville Speedway to assess the feasibility of using rain tires on the circuit‘s shorter ovals.

Plans for the test were announced Wednesday, with Kyle Larson scheduled to drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Chris Buescher set to drive the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on a dampened track. NASCAR officials are currently at the .526-mile Virginia venue for testing of the Next Gen car for the 2022 Cup Series, with Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota all putting their manufacturer-specific models on the track for the first time.

NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O‘Donnell said the test‘s intent is to explore a wet-weather tire‘s short-track potential, with the goal of returning to racing sooner in inclement conditions. Martinsville is the shortest paved track on the Cup Series schedule; O‘Donnell indicated that if the test yields encouraging results that competition officials could explore using the tire in damp conditions at flatter tracks up to approximately 1 mile in length, such as Phoenix and New Hampshire.

After an initial shakedown of the two cars Thursday, test organizers plan to wet the track to gauge traction levels, using feedback from Buescher and Larson to evaluate the performance of the tire, which has different characteristics than the current rain tire for road courses. In a twist of scheduling fate, Wednesday‘s weather forecast calls for significant rainfall at Martinsville with clearing on Thursday‘s test date. Rather than test during a Wednesday downpour, however, competition officials opted to stick with Thursday to test the tires under controlled conditions.

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