With the NASCAR series a couple months in, I figured it would be a good idea to go over what NASCAR really is! I am a big race fan myself. Whether it is IMSA, Formula One, Indy Car, or NASCAR, I love to watch a good race. But I realized something that I want to address. Women might not really understand NASCAR or any race for that matter, but still love to watch them. However, I think it is important to understand why you are passionate about something which is why I am here to teach you! So for all you women out there that love watching NASCAR but might not understand what is going on, I will break it down for you. Plus, all those guys in your life might learn a thing or two from you next race 😉
The first thing you should know about this race series is what NASCAR actually stands for. NASCAR stands for National Association Of Stock Car Auto Racing. NASCAR has three divisions. Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity (once Nationwide) Series, and Camping World Truck Series.
Sprint Cup Series:
The Sprint Cup Series is probably the most popular of the three. When people say ” I am watching the NASCAR race” they are usually referring to the Sprint Cup Series. This series includes famous racers like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Danica Patrick, and Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup starts the second Saturday in February. There are 31 races that finalize top performers and lead into the last ten races before the final cup winner. Total of 41 races. This year’s group includes 47 race car drivers.
The Sprint Cup cars weigh 3,450 pounds and their engines produce 850HP, equating to speeds above 180 mph on the track. This series has the fastest cars with the highest HP compared to the other two.
The Xfinity Series (once Nationwide Series) is where a lot of the top drives from Sprint Cup first started. The once Nationwide Series changed sponsors back in 2015 to Xfinity, thus switching the name. This series starts the weekend after Sprint Cup, so every third Saturday in February. There are roughly 33 races total and the last race crowns the winner. This year there are 48 drivers, including some Sprint Cup drivers like Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kevin Harvick. Since the competition is greater and the cars are a little slower, Sprint Cup drivers like to participate in this series to get more track time, experience, and they like the competition.
The Xfinity cars weigh 3,400 pounds and produce 750HP, making them a little slower than the Sprint Cup cars.
Camping World Truck Series:
The Camping World Truck Series started in 1995 as a pickup truck race series. This series usually starts the Friday before the opening Sprint Cup Series. While the races are not as frequent as the other two above, the Camping World Truck Series still has tons of action. Since racers can only compete in one of three final racer’s championship, the World Truck series gets a lot of race veterans or part-timers; meaning racers like Kyle Busch who also participates in the Sprint Cup and Xfinity will only compete in the Truck Series a couple times. The field this year consists of 33 drivers.
These trucks weigh 3,400 pounds (similar to Xfinity cars) and carry 750HP. They can actually reach speeds up to 180mph on the track.
Now that we established the difference between the three series, let’s get into NASCAR talk. Between what the announcers say, the racers say, or the crowd says, sometimes NASCAR talk can get a little confusing. These are important words or phrases you should definitely know.
I will lay out the top ten words or phrases I believe are the most important when talking about NASCAR. There are much more than just ten terms to learn, but here are my top ten.
- Balance: A balanced car is a good car. It means the car feels great and everything is balanced, thus enhancing performance. When you hear a driver say “oh she’s balanced” they are saying “wow she feels great!”. Which is always nice and as a race car driver, a balanced car means you can focus on other things like racing 🙂
- Banking: In NASCAR there are a lot of tracks with high banking. Especially Daytona. Banking is the sloping of a racetrack, usually at a curve or a corner, from inside of the track to the outside wall. A banking degree refers to the height of the racetracks slope.
- Downforce: The more downforce, the more grip a car has. Normally you would think this is a good thing but not in racing. The more downforce the more drag and friction in the tires which will cause the car to slow down. So if you are trying to go fast and win, high downforce isn’t the way.
- Draft: I know you hear this a lot and it is something racers love to do. A draft is an aerodynamic effect between two cars traveling nose-to-tail in order to go faster. When you see NASCAR cars running so close it looks like they are going to hit, that just means the back car is catching the front cars draft. If hit correctly, this will create a slingshot effect for the back car sending it in front at higher speeds.
- Lucky Dog: The car that just got lucky. A lucky dog is the first car that is one lap down from the leader(s). This means when a yellow car comes out, the lucky dog doesn’t have to pass through the field and can stay put.
- Pole Position (the pole): A pole position is where the driver is placed on the starting grid after qualifying. The faster the qualifying time, the higher the pole position, and the more in front you are for the start of the race. A pole position can make or break winning a race.
- Push: Also known as understeer, in which case you will hear the drivers tell their crew about. A push is when the rear of the car has more grip than the front, causing the front end to slide or “push” towards the wall. The car is not balanced so now the driver has to worry about keeping the steering wheel balanced and driving.
- Splash-N-Go: A phrase meaning to quickly fuel. A splash-n-go, when told to the driver from the pit crew, means the car is to come into the pits for a very quick fuel refill. The pit crew will just splash the car with some gas to keep it going.
- Stop And Go: Similar in sound, but totally different meaning. A stop-and-go is actually a penalty. This is a black flag penalty meaning the driver has to pull into the pits, stop (sometimes shut off the engine) and go once the officials tell them. They loose time and position with this penalty. Never a good thing.
- Trading Paint: I think this is just a NASCAR term. Trading paint refers to aggressive actions. You will hear the announcer saying the cars are “trading paint” when they bump into each other.
Those are my top ten terms you should definitely know. But don’t stop there! Learn more terms and become a NASCAR expert by going to this website.
So there you have it gals. NASCAR information you should know. It is important to understand what you are watching, plus it will make watching a race more fun! And you will definitely outshine everyone else; yes that includes even the guys. Can you imagine their faces when you talk draft or trading paint? Women can know NASCAR just as much as men can, so read up and get ready to impress!
You can check out more information and standings at the NASCAR website.