A - Z of NASCAR Tips

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Superspeedway

An oval track measuring two and half miles in length is known as a superspeedway. These tracks require cars to use a carburetor restrictor plate. Examples of superspeedways are Talledega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway.

   

Happy Hour

Happy hour is typically held in the late afternoon the day before the race. It is the final hour of practice before the actual start of the race.

   

Drafting

When drivers race single file and share air flow among them, they are drafting. The first car creates a vacuum that pulls the cars behind it. Together, the cars can travel much faster than they do separately.

   

Lapped Traffic

The cars that are no longer on the lead lap are known as lapped traffic. These cars are usually far slower than the leaders.

   

Gas-and-go

Gas-and-go, also known as a splash-and-go, is a quick pit stop where the car receives fuel only.

   

Marbles

Pieces of tire and debris that build up on the outside of a track during the race is known as marbles. When a driver runs over them, he will lose control of the car. This term was given to the debris, because it makes the car feel like it is on "marbles."

   

Rookie Driver

Any driver who is competing in their first year of the series, is known as a rookie driver.

   

Fabricator

The team member who prepares the sheet metal (the body of a stock car) at the race shop is known as the fabricator. It is also their job to tend to it as needed at the race track.

   

Roll Bars

Roll bars, also known as the roll cage, are made of strong steel tubing. They are a part of the car's protective frame and safeguard the driver and important components of the car from the impact of a collision.

   

Camber

The tilt of a tire measured in degrees from vertical is referred to as camber. Changing the camber of tires makes the tires touch more or less of the racing surface. Positive camber is when the angle of the tire is tilted away from the vehicle's centerline while negative camber means the tire is tilted toward the centerline. Camber is decided depending on tire wear and/or tire temperature.

   

Pit Road

The pit road is usually parallel to the track's frontstretch. It is a separate road where cars go when they need gas, tires or repairs.

   

Air Dam

The air dam is made of Kevlar and extends from the front bumper of the vehicle downwards to only inches above the ground, stabilizing the front end of the car. Blocking the air from flowing under the car prevents a reduction of speed.

   

Victory Lane

The circle or square in a fenced-in area where a driver celebrates a winning finish is known as Victory Lane. He celebrates with his family, car owners, crew and sponsors.

   

Tri-oval

A modified oval race track with an additional slight turn is known as a tri-oval. Typically, the turn is located mid-way down the frontstretch (the section between the last turn and the first turn). This additional turn is often called a "dogleg."

   

Pit Stop

A pit stop is the routine break from the race. This is when the driver pulls into the pit and the crew services the car. Service includes tire changes, refueling, chassis adjustment, drinks for the driver and/or other work that may be necessary.

   

Series

The three major series found in NASCAR are Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck. The other nine series include the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series and the following Touring Series: Busch North, Featherlite Modified, Featherlite Southwest, Goody's Dash, Hills Bros. All Pro, Raybestos Northwest, RE/MAX Challenge and Winston West.

   

NASCAR

NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. It was founded in 1948 by Bill France, Sr.

   

Stock Car

In the early days of racing, drivers would typically race their cars just as they bought them from the dealer. This type of car is considered stock. Today, these 'stock' cars, contain very little of the original vehicle found in the showroom. Modifications are made to enhance the speed of the racecar and to make them as safe as possible. A racing stock car has no headlights, no door handles and no side window glass. Even though the majority of each stock car raced in NASCAR is specially designed for racing, they are still considered 'stock'.

   

Air Pressure

Ever since radial tires with stiffer sidewalls have been used, changing the air pressure within the tires is used as another setup tool when adjusting spring rates in the vehicle's suspension. If the air pressure is increased, the "spring rate" in the tire will raise. This changes the car's handling characteristics. For example, if the racecar is "tight" coming off a corner, the driver might request a slight air pressure increase in the right rear tire to "loosen it up."

   

Chassis

The chassis is the tubular-shaped steel frame of the car.

   

Road Courses

Race tracks with left and right-hand turns at varying angles are known as road courses. These tracks have a tendency of elevation changes as well. Two road courses are Sears Point Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

   

Provisional Entry

The final seven spots in a NASCAR race are reserved for drivers who qualify unsuccessfully during the weekend. These spots are determined by the points accumulated during past races.

   

Handling

The way a car responds on the track and its performance while racing is known as handling. Many things can affect a car's handling including its suspension, tires, aerodynamics, and body style.

   

Drag

Drag is caused by air flowing around the car and can hinder a race car as it cuts through air. A car with less drag can accelerate faster because the car needs less horsepower.

   

Tachometer

The tachometer is an instrument drivers use to determine engine speed and performance. It measures the number of revolutions per minute (RPM).

   

Short Track

Race tracks measuring one mile or less in length are known as short tracks. At these tracks, aerodynamics and horsepower aren't particularly important in winning the race. Three examples of short tracks are Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

   

Banking

The angle of the racetrack's surface is known as the banking. The angle is lower on the frontstretch and backstretch than in the turns.

   

Backstretch

The straight section of track that is located on the opposite side of the start/finish line is known as the backstretch. It lies between the second and third turn.

   

Downforce

Air pressure that flows over the car creating a downward force that pushes the car onto the track is known as downforce. This causes the car to stick to the racing surface and keeps the car from losing traction at high speeds, especially going through the turns.

   

Frontstretch

The section of race track between the fourth and first turns is known as the frontstretch. Typically located in the center of this section is the flagstand and start/finish line.

   

Loose

A car is called loose when a driver goes through a turn and the rear of the car starts to swing toward the outside wall. This makes the driver feel as if he's losing control of the car and about to spin. This condition happens when the rear tires aren't sticking well to the track and providing enough traction. This is also known as oversteer.

   

Back Marker

A slower car, that is often not on the lead lap is known as the back marker.

   

Getting Hung Out to Dry

A driver that loses his race position because he lost the draft is sometimes referred to as getting hung out to dry. When this occurs, the driver needs to get back in line with the other cars where he can go faster.

   

Aero Push

The airflow from the leading vehicle does not travel across the following one(s) in a normal manner if the following vehicles are close. Because of this, the downforce on the front of the trailing vehicle(s) is decreased and it does not turn in the corners as well, resulting in an "aero push."

   

Tight

Tight, also referred to as pushing, means the front tires aren't turning well through turns because they have less traction than the rear tires.

   
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