How Long Does It Take To Do One Lap Around A Track In NASCAR?
NASCAR tracks are not all the same size which means there is not one set time how long it can take to do a lap around a track. There are four categories of tracks and those are the short track, road course, intermediate tracks, and the superspeedways. Tracks must meet a certain length criteria in order to be placed in a group. Even though two NASCAR tracks might be in the same category they are still very different from one another. No track is the same because they are built uniquely, which means that every track produces different times for one lap.
Since every track is different the drivers have different strategies which results in different times for the different tracks. Also, some races are 400 miles while others are 600 miles, or some might be 500 laps meaning that the driving strategies may be different causing different times. There is not one definitive time for one lap; racers focus on maintaining steady speeds because the track size determines the average speed.
NASCAR short tracks are not very common as there are only three short tracks in the Cup Series. The track must be less than one mile in length in order to be considered a short track. The three current tracks that are in the Cup series are the Martinsville Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Richmond Raceway. At only .526 miles, the Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track in the Cup Series. The Bristol Motor Speedway is .533 miles and the Richmond Raceway is .75 miles. In a short track race the drivers are typically able to maintain speeds at around 115-120 mph. The NASCAR race at Martinsville consists of 500 laps. The Martinsville Speedway is a total of 263 miles which will take these racers over two hours to complete.
Traditional NASCAR tracks consist of only left turns because the track is an oval and they drive in a counterclockwise fashion. In a road course right turns are incorporated into the track along with left turns. Road courses are the only tracks in the cup series that are not ovals. The courses are typically longer and require different skills because they are windy with many different turns. Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway are the two road courses in the Cup Series. Watkins Glen is 2.45 miles and Sonoma is 2.52 miles. Cars typically cannot go faster than 75 to 85 miles per hour in a road course. Road courses consist of 90 laps and each lap consists of multiple turns making it very difficult and the timing is very inconsistent.
An intermediate track, also called a speedway, is defined as a track that is one mile or longer, but does not include the Daytona Motor Speedway or the Talladega Speedway because they are in a special category. Most races in the Cup Series are on intermediate sized tracks. Speeds on an intermediate track top out around 190 miles per hour. Some of the most famous tracks are the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is 1.5 miles long while the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is 2.5 miles long. Since one track is a mile apart they will record different lap times, but typically on an intermediate track, one lap takes anywhere between 40 second to one minute. Every course has different degrees of turns that will determine the speed of the cars. Some courses may take a few seconds longer to finish a lap even though they are similar distances.
Currently, NASCAR only designates two courses as Superspeedways. Those are the Talladega Superspeedway and the Daytona Motor Speedway. Talladega is 2.66 miles and Daytona is 2.5 miles long. Since these tracks are so large it allows for drivers to record speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The cars have to be capped at 210 miles per hour to ensure safety for all of the drivers. The Daytona Motor Speedway hosts the Daytona 500 annually and this race consists of 200 laps that require about two and a half hours to complete without any pit stops or breaks. This means on average it takes around 45 seconds to complete one lap at the Daytona Motor Speedway. Although Superspeedways may be the longest tracks in the sport, they do not necessarily take the longest to complete one lap as some road courses take longer due to the slower speeds that are driven on the road courses.