NASCAR Rules and Regulations
Have you ever turned on the TV and watched as race cars speed around a track? You might be watching NASCAR: the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Did you know that the first NASCAR race was held in 1948 in Daytona Beach, Florida? You may recognize some famous NASCAR drivers names and not even realize it: like Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, or even Tony Stewart.
Although it may seem like NASCAR is just about racing around a track, there are a lot of specifics that go into each race. Some famous series include Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Ranging from the duration of the race, the type of racetrack, to each driver's particular protective gear, there are many different specifications and rules that go into a NASCAR race.
Here is a little bit of what you need to know regarding the rules of NASCAR:
- The Racetrack
- Duration and Format
- NASCAR Drivers
There are a few different types of NASCAR race tracks and they all vary in size. The Daytona's oval track is 2.5 miles long and the Michigan Speedway is 2 miles long. Races range from 200 to 500 laps to complete!
Other tracks include the Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Tracks do not exceed 2.5 miles long.
Duration and Format
At the start of a race, a NASCAR flagman will wave a green flag to start (or restart) the race. This is the cue that the drivers can begin to drive and that the race has begun.
Each race typically includes 40 different cars and therefore, 40 drivers.
Because of the length of the races, they are separated into three stages (one, two and final). This helps keep track of the rankings throughout the race.
There are breaks at the end of stage one and two, and then at the conclusion of the race. There are typically 60 laps per stage.
When a checkered flag is waved, that signals to the drivers that a winner has been declared and the race is over.
There are currently 36 different chartered teams for the 2020 season. These teams are split into different manufacturers, like Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford. Each team is limited to four cars. There are usually only two or three drivers per team. Drivers of the same team can compete in the same race.
A lot of the equipment that goes into a NASCAR race takes place inside of the car. How does the driver stay safe? What do they wear? What makes a racecar different from any other car?
For starters, each driver is equipped with a helmet for clear safety precautions. Some cars can exceed 200 mph, and with high speeds come a higher chance of getting injured. Most drivers wear a full face helmet, which covers the entire face, but oftentimes, drivers will wear an open-face helmet, which covers the head, but not the face. Drivers can opt for goggles for extra protection, too, from dirt or any objects that may be circulating around the racetrack.
Their uniforms are one-piece jumpsuits that are fire retardant. Crew members are also required to wear the same jumpsuits for their own safety.
Each car is required to show its number on the roof of the car and on each door. Think of this in the same way that a player wears their jersey number; this is to differentiate a car among the rest. Each driver must also "pit" to refuel and get new tires throughout the race. When a driver pits, each driver's car gets refueled and the tires get replaced.
In 2001, NASCAR began requiring drivers to wear a piece of equipment called a HANS Device, which is similar to a head restraint. It is another piece of protective gear that a driver wears. It acts as a stabilizer. If the driver crashes, there is less of a chance of a head or neck injury due to the HANS Device.
One of the most prominent symbols within NASCAR are the flags. Each flag represents something different, so it's important to recognize and understand the difference between them. While some resemble stop light signals, others need a bit more explaining. Here is a list below detailing what each flag means:
- Green: Go, the race is ongoing!
- Yellow: Proceed with caution
- Red: Stop
- Black: Safety infraction, leave the track!
- Blue with diagonal yellow stripe: Move over
- Blue: Be careful with race track conditions, such as stopped cars
- White: Driver is entering the last lap
- Black and white checkered: The race is finished!
Just like any other sport, there are certain actions that are not allowed throughout a NASCAR race that can result in a penalty, fine, or suspension.
One type of suspension can result from one driver intentionally crashing into another driver's car to wreck it. If a driver intentionally wrecks another car while under a yellow flag, that can also result in a large fine.
Each driver is required to race the car that he practices with. In the case of a crash, the driver may only race the same type of car that passed NASCAR inspections. Racing any other type of backup car could result in a penalty.
There are many different types of penalties:
- Restarting: the driver must restart. For example, if a driver pits before the pit road is open, he may have to restart.
- Stop and Go Penalty: a driver can be called back for a stop and go penalty. For example, if he removes equipment from pit road or speeding through pit road, he may be called back.
- Pass-through Penalty: when a driver doesn't pass through the pit under green. An example is either passing on a restart or start or jumping a green flag.
- One Lap Penalty: a driver will lose a lap if this is the result of a penalty. An example is if he refuels the car before the race starts.
Determining a NASCAR race winner is actually quite easy. There are different stages of a race, numbered stage one, two, and the final stage. The top 10 winners after stage one and two are awarded more points. The final stage is what showcases the final scores, and where the winner is announced.
Drivers who finish in the top ten of stage one and two will receive points. The first place winner receives ten, second place receives nine, third place receives eight and so on.
- NASCAR races can last up to three hours each.
- There are 36 teams for the 2020 season.
- If a driver commits a foul or penalty, they may be subjected to a restart, losing a lap, stop and go or even a pass-through penalty.
- Race tracks are typically 2.5 miles long.
- Drivers may pit when they need to refuel or replace the car's tires.
- A driver's uniform is a fire retardant jumpsuit, which is also worn by pit crew members.
- Different flags symbolize different parts of the race, like green meaning go and checkered meaning the race is finished.
How long are NASCAR Races?
The length of NASCAR races depends on how large the track is and how many laps are required. For example, the Daytona 500 is 2.5 miles long and requires 500 laps. This means it will take around 2 and a half to three hours for the race to be completed. The race time can also change depending on weather and if any crashes occur.
How often do NASCAR drivers make pit stops?
NASCAR drivers make pit stops to change tires and refuel. As of 2020, two pit stops are required for each driver to ensure tires are safe and no crashes are caused from a blown tire. Drivers and pit crews may need to make more stops if there is a problem with the car, but they try to do as few as possible to save time.
What penalties can drivers get during NASCAR races?
Drivers can get penalized for several different actions on the track. One of the biggest penalties is if a driver intentionally wrecks another car during the race. Another penalty can occur if teams drive a car that has not passed regulatory checks before the race, or if they change the car after the checks have been made. Penalties may result in a restart, a start and go, or even a lap added to the racer's time.