NASCAR Overview

NASCAR is one of the many sports that take place in the United States. The season begins in February with the Daytona 500, the most famous race in NASCAR, and ends in mid-November with the conclusion of the playoff races. It was started in 1948 by Bill France, one of the most renowned members of the history of NASCAR. The organization has since grown into one of the most supported and most watched sporting leagues in the country. The 10 month long season contains around 40 races and each race has about 40 drivers race a car each week.


History of NASCAR

The National Association of Stock Car Racing, referred to as NASCAR, was created in 1947 in a meeting organized by Bill France Jr., a former NASCAR executive. Just three months later, NASCAR organized its first ever race in Daytona Beach, which was won by Red Byron. Some of the best NASCAR drivers of all time include Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt. NASCAR can be a complicated sport to understand with all of its unique, complex rules and procedures, but hopefully, we can make it a little easier to understand for those trying to learn the basics of professional stock car racing.

Equipment

There are a few main parts that are needed for each race in NASCAR. They include the driver, the support team, the car, the track, and the pit. These main elements are all made up of a multitude of items such as the 20+ crew members outside of the driver that run the pit stops, service the car in the garage, and make the traveling from race to race run smoothly.

The car itself is one of the most finely-tuned pieces of machinery in the world made up of hundreds of specific car parts. There are around 30-35 different tracks across the country that host races during the season and a few different types of track styles. They include short track (roughly half a mile), speedways (a mile to a mile and a half), superspeedways (two to two and a half miles) and road courses with multiple turns across longer distances. The pit crew and area has a few parts in its own right as well including tires, gas cans, jacks, etc. All of these items service the car during the race and do it quickly to maintain position on the track.

Objectives

The main goal of NASCAR is easy to understand: beat your opponents in a race that consists of multiple laps. But in order to accomplish that goal and win a race, you have to have efficient pit stops, awareness of different flag types, a good strategy behind turning corners on the race track, and much more. A new rule to NASCAR is the implementation of stages and a point system for stages. Stages are periods in a race where drivers awarded points depending on where they finish in each different period in the race. The first stage is typically the length of the first quarter of a race, the second stage is typically the second quarter of the race, and the third and final stage is typically the last half of the race. The only race that has four stages is the Coca-Cola 600, where each stage is 100 laps with a total of 400. Some of the major NASCAR races include the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, Championship Race at Homestead, and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. 

Pit Stops

There are a handful of stops during a race where a driver needs to refuel, change tires, and correct any malfunctions the stock car may be experiencing. These breaks are referred to as pit stops. A pit stop is completed by a pit crew, which is a multiple-person team that rushes onto the car and gets the car ready as fast as possible so that the driver can continue the race. But the speed of a pit stop has become more and more important as NASCAR has evolved. Since the 1940s, NASCAR pit stop times have been trimmed down by about 88%. When pit stops started in the 1940s, no one batted an eye at a pit stop that took about 55 seconds long. But nowadays, a single pit stop that takes 55 seconds will cost you the race. The expectation for NASCAR pit crews is to have the car ready to race in less than 12 seconds.

Flag Information

Another piece of information that may confuse people beginning to learn about NASCAR is the different types of flags in a race and what they stand for. Here is a list of the different flags you will see during a NASCAR race:

  • Green and White Checkered Flag
  • Caution Flag
  • Green Flag
  • Checkered Flag

The Green and White Checkered Flag represents the end of a stage in a race. The Caution Flag represents a period where there are laps that count towards the total amount of the race between the first and second stage. The Green Flag means that drivers can begin racing at each of the different stages. And the Checkered Flag symbolizes the end of a NASCAR race.

Qualifying Lap

To determine the starting positions for any given NASCAR race, the cars must first perform in a qualifying lap. A qualifying lap determines the order and placements of each car position. So what is a qualifying lap and what does it entail?

Before each race, each driver individually takes a lap around the track, aiming to achieve the quickest speed. A random draw decides the order of cars for the qualifying lap. This lap can make or break a rider’s chance of finishing the race in a good ranking.

The qualifying lap also determines who starts in pole position, which is the inside front row position of the starting grid. The driver with the quickest time is awarded the pole position. This position puts the rider at an advantage. The second quickest time gets the second inside position, third gets the third and so on. The pole position starts the race first and has a better chance of maintaining a leading rank throughout the race.

After 36 spots are filled, four of the remaining spots are available for drivers who had issues during their qualifying runs.

For big races like the Daytona 500, the qualifying lap determines who the 40 participants in the race will be.

FAQ

What is NASCAR?

NASCAR stands for the Nation Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and has one of the United States’ most passionate sport fan bases. While NASCAR might not be the first sport that comes to mind, it is certainly a huge market full of energy, excitement, and competition.

What Makes Nascar Unique?

NASCAR is a very unique sport although there are a few different racing sports that are similar. The most unique aspects of NASCAR are the fact that most of the races are run on oval tracks as well as the race car itself differs from open wheel racing that is popular across the world. NASCAR is a stock car racing league and the stock car/closed wheel cars used in the races make the sport unique from other racing across the globe and other sports too.

How much does a car cost?

The cost of a NASCAR team to run a race each weekend is far and above what the average person could pay each and every week for the same event. A race team uses about $400,000 worth of parts, tools, fuel, etc. to make sure that the car is ready to race and will give its best effort to win the race.