What is NASCAR?

nascar

NASCAR is an increasingly fast-paced sport involving stock car racing throughout the United States. 40+ cars zoom around the track within inches of each other and seconds separate the winner from the loser. Each driver has a team that helps to perfect both the driver's performance as well as the car's performance on the track. NASCAR is a unique sport as it is one of the most popular closed-wheeled racing sports in the world. The 36 race season provides plenty of drama and excitement for fans, drivers, teams, and owners alike.


History

nascar history

Racing cars is the one of oldest pastimes in the United States and across the globe. The earliest origins of the sport of NASCAR started in the early 20th century. Bill France Sr. was credited with organizing NASCAR and the first races that took place. The sport was organized in late 1947 and the first race was run in February 1948 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The first official Cup Series Race was run in June of 1949 with the first NASCAR championship being handed out later that year in October 1949.

Playing Surface

nascar race track

Each NASCAR race is run on a race track. Most of these are oval in shape with a few being longer road courses that are not a set shape. Tracks are classified in a few different types including short tracks, intermediate, superspeedways, and road courses. Short tracks range from half a mile to a mile long, intermediate tracks range from a mile to two miles for a lap, superspeedways range from two and a half miles to three miles, and road courses are generally longer. Each track is unique and there are over 20 tracks that races take place on throughout the season with differences in turns, angles, and pit areas.

Equipment

nascar equipment

NASCAR is a sport that its equipment is as important to the race as the human participants. The main pieces of equipment in the sport are the stock car, the pit crew's equipment, and the personal safety equipment for the driver. Having all three of these sections of equipment are tuned up and working well allows the driver to be confident and successful on the track. Here are some of the important pieces of equipment that drivers and crew members use:

  • Stock Car
  • Car Engine
  • Car Transmission
  • Car Seat
  • Car Steering Wheel
  • Car Chassis
  • Car Tires
  • Pit Crew Jack
  • Pit Crew Gas Can
  • Pit Crew Tire Changer
  • Pit Crew Fire Suits
  • Driver Fire Suit
  • Driver Helmet
  • Driver HANS head safety system
  • Driver Fireproof Shoes
  • Driver Fireproof Gloves

Gameplay

nascar gameplay

A NASCAR race consists of a predetermined number of laps split into 3 different stages: Stage 1 (Lap 1-60), Stage 2 (Lap 61-120), and the Final Stage (Lap 121-Race End). A NASCAR race's number of laps depends on the length of the race which range from 300 to 600 miles and the length of a lap on the track. Qualifying laps take place to set the beginning positions of drivers. Every driver hopes to win the race or finish as close as possible to the front of the pack.

A race can start and stop throughout due to crashes, debris, or weather-related issues. This process is done through a flag system with a green flag meaning clean racing, a yellow caution flag meaning a crash or debris impedes the race stopping to fix this, and a red flag to end the race for weather or an extreme case like a fatal crash.

Position Roles and Responsibilities

nascar position roles and responsibilities

There are a few different positions or roles in the sport of NASCAR. The main roles are the driver, the crew chief, the team owner, and the car pit crew.

The driver races on the track controlling the car throughout the race directly. The team owner oversees the entire operation as the overall leader of the team. The crew chief leads the pit crew and is the in-race leader of the team. They also speak directly to the driver on track too. Another important position is the spotter who also is in contact with the driver on track telling them where other cars are and what to watch out for. Individuals on the pit stop crew have sets position or responsibilities which include:

  • Tire Changers
  • Jackmen
  • Gas Can Man
  • Tire Carriers
  • Window Tear Off Man

Rules and Regulations

nascar rules and regulations

There are plenty of rules and regulations in the sport of NASCAR that affect each and every race. These infractions range from car/engine violations and pit stop infractions to on track rule breaks. The rules in NASCAR are relatively the same in the lower leagues as well with some slight changes.

Engine Limits: Engines known as long-block and short-block engines have limits on their usage amounts during the course of a season.

Car Limits: A race team can only have 12 total cars rostered during a season in case of crashes or engine troubles.

Pit Stop Speed: A driver may not drive faster than 55 MPH when in the pit lanes or else a penalty will occur.

Pit Stop Regulations: Pit crew members cannot jump the wall until the car is inside the pit box, the right side must be addressed before left, all lug nuts must be attached onto wheels.

Referees and Officials

nascar referees and officials

A NASCAR race does not have the most visible referees wearing the zebra stripes most people are used to. The main official in view is the flag man controlling the race in concert with spotters around the track. The main function of race officials is to perform car inspections. These take place throughout qualifying and pre-race as well as post-race on the winning cars to make sure all of the rules and regulations were followed. In-race inspectors are also assigned to a specific driver to make sure all elements of the race are run smoothly and adhere to regulations.

Lingo and Terminology

nascar lingo and terminology

NASCAR is a sport full of technical terms and slang that makes it easier to speak about these things. These phrases and words are used by ordinary fans, in the NASCAR shops, and by car enthusiasts alike so they must be understood before they are used.

Dirty Air: Air that causes turbulence from the cars in front of a car

Downforce: A combo of forces that allow the car to grip the track

Drafting: Two cars close together using aerodynamics to gain speed

Loose: When a car struggles to grip the track

Short Pit: A pit stop that takes place far before it needs to happen for a strategic advantage

Side Drafting: Airflow causing cars to slow down next to another car

Slingshot: Using a draft to gain speed and pass cars

Tight: Oversteering causing bad turns, too much front wheel grip

Tower: Race control tower

Wave Around: Gaining a lap on a caution, "waved around" the pace car

Skills and Techniques

nascar skills and techniques

It may seem as if a NASCAR driver just drives in a circle turning left, however, there is plenty of skill involved. Drivers fight for position throughout a race using techniques such as drafting, bump drafting, side drafting, and slingshotting. Besides just drafting and passing techniques, the lines a driver takes into the corners whether high or low are also increasingly important to learn and master. The tenths of seconds gained or lost based on a line around the track and how a driver perfects this could change a race and season.

NASCAR Crew Chiefs/ "Coaching"

nascar crew chiefs

There is no one with the technical name of coach in NASCAR however the closest thing to this position is the crew chief. This individual runs the team including driver, spotter, and pit crew making tactical and strategic decisions while also motivating too. Just as the relationship between players and coaches in team sports is essential, so is the chemistry and relationship between driver and crew chief. Some of the most famous crew chiefs with their primary drivers are listed below:

CREW CHIEFDRIVER
Dale InmanRichard Petty
Chad KnausJimmie Johnson
Ray EvernhamJeff Gordon
Kirk ShelmerdineDale Earnhardt
Jeff HammondDarrell Waltrip

NASCAR Strategy

nascar strategy

NASCAR has many different elements of strategy that influence a race. Besides on-track skills drivers use and employ, a main strategy element involves pit stops. Within a pit stop, many choices happen that involve strategy. Whether to replace 4 tires, or just 2 and which side of the car these 2 are replaced on is the main debate during each pit stop. Planning pit stops, when they occur, and what happens during them makes or breaks a race and this strategy is essential to every team involved.

NASCAR Drills

nascar drills

The only drill that can help a driver in NASCAR to perform better is to drive more. Because of technology advancements in recent times, virtual racing can be a good drill/practice for the real thing. iRacing is a company that has realistic practice incorporating all the tracks and many drivers drive in these simulators or own one themselves. Practicing a driver's lines on the specific tracks then translating that to the real car in practice and then into real races is the best practice a driver could get.

NASCAR Players

nascar players

NASCAR is an individual sport and features some of the most well-known individual athletes in the world. Over the years there have been many drivers who have risen to the top of the field more often than the rest. Some of the most successful and famous drivers in NASCAR are included below with their total wins as of 2016:

NASCAR DRIVERRACE WINS
Richard Petty200
David Pearson105
Dale Earnhardt76
Jimmie Johnson55
Jeff Gordon85
Cale Yarborough83
Darrell Waltrip84

NASCAR Leagues

nascar leagues

NASCAR is a sport made up of a few different levels of leagues, or Cup Series. There are a multitude of professional racing leagues around the world but for those who drive closed-wheel stock cars most dream to drive in NASCAR's top tier cup series. Here are the top few levels of NASCAR in the order of their distance from the Cup Series:

LEAGUELOCATIONLEVEL
NASCAR Cup SeriesUSAHighest Level
NASCAR Xfinity SeriesUSASecond Highest Level
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck SeriesUSAThird Highest Level

NASCAR Teams

nascar teams

NASCAR is an individual sport however there is a team element too. 4 drivers all work and are employed by the same race team sharing equipment and knowledge. The best teams usually have the best drivers and crew teams and resources producing the most on track success. The most valuable and successful teams in the NASCAR are as follows:

RACE TEAMSVALUE
Hendrick Motorsports$350 million
Roush Fenway Racing$185 million
Joe Gibbs Racing$155 million
Richard Childress Racing$147 million
Stewart-Haas Racing$108 million
Penske Racing$98 million

NASCAR Websites

nascar websites

There are plenty of websites that pertain to NASCAR and the sport. Each has their own purpose and brings different things to fans, writers, and consumers alike. Below are some of the most popular sites and what they bring to the user:

NASCAR Tournaments

nascar tournaments

NASCAR does not have too many conventional tournaments throughout the course of the season. However, a few different circumstances could be considered to be a tournament-style event including those on the list below:

TOURNAMENTTIME FRAME
The Duels at Daytona Preseason Events (just before first race)
All-Star RaceMidseason Exhibition Event
The Race for the ChaseEnd of season (NASCAR playoffs)

NASCAR Books

nascar books

There are plenty of titles and reading options to gain knowledge on the sport of NASCAR. Many of these books are nonfiction biographies on drivers, crew chiefs, or accounts of races, seasons, or teams. There are also some fiction options that are dramatized or based on real events too. Here are several of the most popular books:

BOOKAUTHOR
The Physics of NASCARDiandra Leslie-Pelecky
Driver #8Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Jade Gurss
Tim Richmond: The Fast Life and Remarkable Times of NASCAR's Top GunDavid Poole
Miracle: Bobby Allison and the Saga of the Alabama GangPeter Golenback
CheatingTom Jensen

FAQ

What is NASCAR?

NASCAR is the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. It is the premier racing circuit in the United States and the world for closed-wheel racing. The Cup Series is its highest level and has over 30 races with over 40 drivers.

Do NASCAR drivers wear diapers?

Most NASCAR drivers do not wear diapers during the race. However, most drivers like Brad Keslowski or Dale Earnhardt Jr. state that they do not have to go during the race almost ever. If the time comes, then the time comes and drivers will just go without a diaper but these instances are rare.

What TV network is NASCAR on today?

FOX Sports owns the rights to NASCAR races on TV through the 2024 season. Most of these races take place on FOX Sports 1 with some also on FOX depending on the notoriety of the race. Also, NBC airs some of the races throughout the season as well.

Who are the richest NASCAR drivers?

NASCAR drivers who are at the top of the sport generate millions of dollars each and every year for themselves and their teams. The most valuable drivers of all time include Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($300mil), Jeff Gordon ($150mil), Jimmie Johnson ($120mil), and Ken Schrader ($75mil). Most of the most valuable drivers are modern drivers as revenue from the sport has jumped in modern times.