Could NASCAR’s Air Titan technology help pro tennis?


Considering that tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race is under a rain delay at this time, this seems like a fitting topic.

As you may recall, NASCAR recently unveiled its second version of the Air Titan track-drying technology that debuted last year. The system has been used quite a bit this season, and we don’t think there’s even one fan that would say NASCAR’s investment in it wasn’t a wise one.

Now, it appears that the system has attracted the attention of another sport that has its own issues with the rain: Professional tennis.

Earlier today, NASCAR CEO Brian France disclosed a recent meeting he had with the United States Tennis Association on the subject.

“I was just out with the United States Tennis Association because they have a similar issue with all those courts,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said at a sports editors’ conference according to USA Today.

“When it rains, they need about 20 or 30 minutes to dry their courts. This technology is going to have major ramifications. We always believed that it would. It’s a green solution.

“To give you a little perspective on that, we can clean the area the size of a football field in 20 seconds with this technology, which gives you a certain feel of why the tennis guys are intrigued to know more about this technology.”

It sounds strange to put NASCAR and tennis together, but last year, the New York Times relayed comments from NASCAR vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell that suggested tennis hardcourts could eventually benefit from the Air Titan system.

And now that the system’s evolved into a more compact and greener version, that time could be coming soon.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.