How NASCAR races work
Editor’s Note: This article on how NASCAR racing works is published in conjunction with an outside sponsorship client. The opinions and information contained herein do not necessarily represent Front stretch and its staff.
NASCAR is a spectacular stock car competition, the most popular racing series in North America. In this article, we will tell you more about this first series, mainly focused on oval tracks, and what makes it different from other popular racing series around the world.
A spectator accustomed to classic circuits, a fan of Formula 1 or the World Touring Car Championship, does not take NASCAR seriously at first sight. “What could be easier – turn in one direction!” this fan might say.
This is a common misconception due to the fact that European spectators rarely go to oval tracks. There are only a handful of such tracks in Europe, and they are mostly left idle as fans flock to road courses designed for F1. For example, Britain’s Rockingham Motor Speedway was only used in an oval configuration in the early 2000s, when it hosted races for the now defunct American Champ Car series. In 2022, the expressway is now operated in a different form; only a small portion of the oval track is suitable for European racing.
The particularity of the oval track really lies in the fact that you only have to turn in one direction. But in reality, it is not easier than constantly moving the car from side to side. To move along the oval, special settings are required, differentiating it from your typical open-wheel vehicle. The suspension is made asymmetrical, creating a difference between the sides of the car and the front and rear axles. Since oval tracks have a slope of the pavement from the sides towards the center, you have to build the car in a certain way so that it has more grip.
One such example of how a NASCAR oval puts a maximum load on production cars is the Bristol Motor Speedway, commonly referred to as Thunder Valley in American motorsport. In Bristol, the inclination reaches 30 degrees on the bends and 10 on the straights; thus, compensation for the inclination of the vehicle is necessary. If you don’t have the opportunity to watch the competition live, you can experience the thrills from the comfort of your home – for example, playing Legal Canadian Hell Spin Casino.
At the same time, the combination of forces (including centrifugal) constantly strives to bring the car into the outer radius, while the inner radius is more advantageous for overtaking. That’s the art – you don’t just need to play in circles, but constantly calculate the course of other cars on the track so you don’t give them overtaking loopholes as you battle tight conditions or cowards that could bring you to the limit of control.
Maintaining this control is a constant battle: as soon as you release your hand on the steering wheel, the car turns against the wall in seconds. Thus, the difficulty of moving along the oval is achieved not so much by the configuration of the track, but by the density of the struggle: the rivals themselves become part of the track, natural obstacles in a much greater extent than, for example, in F1 where overtaking is paramount. The 40-car field, entered on a 0.533 mile track like Bristol, is a very serious test that not everyone can resist.
NASCAR is not a single series, but a racing association that includes a number of different divisions, culminating in the NASCAR Cup Series championship. In descending order, there are two junior championships: the NASCAR Xfinity Series (less powerful cars of a similar configuration) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (pickup trucks). In the two second-tier divisions, drivers fighting for the title can meet guests from the senior division who are allowed to come and compete for a limited schedule.
Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Cole Custer are just a few examples of prominent Cup runners who perform regularly in lower series; Custer won a race at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. It was much more prevalent before recent rules limited their appearances; at the height of these double drivers, in 33 Xfinity races in 2013, guests won 29! But they didn’t receive points for wins, as a NASCAR driver can officially compete in only one series; Austin Dillon, who did not win any races that year, became the champion.
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