NASCAR Starting Positions
At the beginning of every NASCAR race, the cars assume their starting positions and prep for the starting signal. Have you ever wondered how the order of the race cars gets chosen? Is there a benefit to starting in a certain position? There is a lot that goes into the NASCAR starting positions, so let’s get started.
We’ll start by going over the few basics of starting positions. Before the race, each driver individually races around the track. The driver with the quickest time wins the pole position. He is referred to as the pole-sitter.
In a race, the pole position is the inside position in the front row. The outside pole position is awarded to the second quickest driver. The third quickest gets the third spot and so on. There are typically 40 cars in a NASCAR race, so landing good placements could be the key to a win. The order of the positions is sequential, so anyone watching the race can determine the best qualifiers if they can identify the pole position car.
There’s a clear advantage to having a good starting position: being able to start before the other drivers. After the race begins, the driver in pole position has a better chance of staying in the first place spot throughout the race.
Although a first place win is not guaranteed, there is a strong correlation between the pole position and ranking within the top five.
There are some advantages of being in the middle or back of the pack, too. Drivers in these scenarios are able to pace themselves accordingly and don’t have to maintain a lead throughout the race.
A disadvantage of being in the pole position is that the driver must maintain a lead throughout the entire race. If a driver would rather pace himself and then close in on the competition towards the end of the race, that is hard to do from this position.
Another possible disadvantage is an increased chance of accident and injury. Since many cars gain traction and may pass the pole position car, this can increase the likelihood of a crash or collision with the walls of the track.
Some disadvantages of being in the middle or back of the pack are also related to danger. If a driver is surrounded by many cars, there is a higher chance of crashing. Also, it may be harder for a car toward the back of the lineup to gain leadership and maneuver their way up to a leading position.
NASCAR series set a certain number of positions based on the owner points and the top number of wins instead of on their qualifying results. So, cars with a high number of owner points/wins get a large advantage. After this, the qualifying lap determines the order of the cars.
In the Xfinity Series, six positions are awarded based on owner points. The Camping World Truck Series and The Monster Energy Series awards four positions to unqualified cars.