The Basics of NASCAR Tips

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Ten sections, ten questions. This has ten questions.

   
What’s the difference between a NASCAR team and an NASCAR organization?

More Than Just a Team

A team is a part of an organization and is comprised of the actual car, the crew chief, the pit crew and the hauler used to transport the team to the track. The organization provides the support services that the team uses; the chassis shop, the engine shop, the body shop, engineering and logistical services.

Smaller organizations may outsource some or all of the support services to other companies. Robert Yates Racing, which currently fields two teams the No. 88 and No 38 Fords, for example provides engines to several other teams outside their organization.

Larger organizations can perform all the needed support functions ‘in-house'. Roush Fenway Racing is such an organization. Roush-Fenway Racing is currently the largest organization in NASCAR. Roush-Fenway fields five full time Nextel Cup teams, along with five Busch series teams and three Truck teams.

   
What are sponsors?

NASCAR Sponsorships

Sponsors are the lifeblood that makes NASCAR go, literally.

Corporate sponsors provide the financial support that keeps the individual NASCAR teams competitive. The money they provide allow the teams to buy parts, build racecars and pay the salaries of the drivers and team members.

In return for their investment, sponsors choose the overall team colors and the paint schemes used on the racecars; this is where the term ‘rolling billboard' comes from.

The sponsors product or brand will be visible to millions of fans in person and on television. The TV exposure can actually be measured; a firm called Joyce-Julius & Associates provide weekly reports to sponsors. These reports will tell the sponsor how much TV time they received the week prior and how much in actual dollars that TV team was worth.

For the sponsor the benefits that come from a NASCAR sponsorship go beyond just TV time. NASCAR fans have been shown to be the among the most loyal sports fans in the world. They will often go out of their way to support a brand that sponsors their favorite driver.

According to NASCAR, sponsors gained a record $5.2 billion in sponsorship exposure in 2006.

“NASCAR sponsorship is the best buy in marketing,” according to Larry DeGaris former Director for Sports Sponsorship at James Madison University. “The combination of awareness, favorability and effectiveness is unparalleled in the sports world or anywhere else.”

There are three main levels of sponsorship, Primary, Major Associate and Associate. A Primary sponsor normally funds the entire team operation and will have say over team colors, uniforms and racecar paint schemes. A Major associate sponsorship will normally have a spot on the rear deck lid or rear quarter panel of the racecar and a prominent logo on the team's uniforms. An associate sponsor will get the ‘A' or ‘B' post on the racecar (the area just behind the driver or passenger side windows), or the lower quarter panels depending on their agreements.

Because the economy and corporate revenues have changed in the past few years, teams are being forced to become more creative in seeking funding. Some teams are using more then one primary sponsor throughout the season. Still other teams have agreements to run a primary sponsor part of the season and another the rest of the year. Some even share primary sponsors, with one sponsor as a primary for certain races and another for other races

There are also contingency sponsors. These are sponsorships normally set up through NASCAR. The small decals framing the front wheels on racecars are all contingency sponsorships. The team is paid a certain amount to display the decals.

   
What are NASCAR's non-points races?

NASCAR's Non-points Races

There are currently two non-championship point races on the NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule.

The Budweiser Shootout is held prior to the official start of the season at Daytona International Speedway. The Shootout debuted in 1979 and drivers earn the opportunity to race in the event one of two ways, by being a former winner of the event or by winning a pole position in the previous season.

The NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge is held at Lowes Motor Speedway usually the weekend prior to the Memorial Day weekend. To be eligible, drivers must have either won a past All-Star event or a race in the previous season. Drivers can also win their way in by a victory in the Nextel Open, a race held on the same day as the All-Star Challenge.

In years past several gimmicks have allowed fans to vote a driver into the Challenge who otherwise would not be eligible.

The format for the All-Star Challenge changes every few years. In 2007, the Challenge held four 20-lap segements with a 10 minute 'halftime' break between the second and third segements. Kevin Harvick driving for Richard Childress Racing was the 2007 winner.

   
How do the other series determine their champions?

Determining a NASCAR Champion in Busch and Truck

Both the NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series use the ‘Latford' system. Their series points are not reset and points from all their races are used to determine a champion and the end of the season.

What's the difference between a NASCAR team and an NASCAR organization?

A team is a part of an organization and is comprised of the actual car, the crew chief, the pit crew and the hauler used to transport the team to the track. The organization provides the support services that the team uses; the chassis shop, the engine shop, the body shop, engineering and logistical services.

Smaller organizations may outsource some or all of the support services to other companies. Robert Yates Racing, which currently fields two teams the No. 88 and No 38 Fords, for example provides engines to several other teams outside their organization.

Larger organizations can perform all the needed support functions ‘in-house'. Roush Fenway Racing is such an organization. Roush-Fenway Racing is currently the largest organization in NASCAR. Roush-Fenway fields five full time Nextel Cup teams, along with five Busch series teams and three Truck teams.

   
What is the Chase for the Nextel Cup?

The Chase for the Nextel Cup

The Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup is the way that NASCAR determines its champion in its top tier Nextel Cup Series.

The Chase debuted in 2004 and was developed as a way to give more drivers a chance to contend for the season long Nextel Cup series championship. The Chase was also designed to create drama and increase fan and media interest. In its inaugural year a mere 8 points, the closest in NASCAR history, decided the championship. In 2005, the margin was 35 points and 2006, 56.

When it was started, the Chase was open to the top 10 drivers plus any other driver within 400 points of the leader, but in January 2007, NASCAR announced that it was ‘tweaking' the format. The number of eligible drivers was increased to 12 and bonus points were added for wins and the 400-point provision was eliminated.

Under the old Chase, the top driver in points had their total reset to 5050. Each driver behind the top to the tenth position was five points behind the leader.

The Nextel Cup series consists of 36 points paying races. The first 26 races are scored as they have been since 1975.

The top 12 drivers at the finish of the 26th race determine who will be contending for the championship over the course of the final 10 races. Those12 driver's points are reset to 5000. Each driver is then awarded 10 points for each race win from the 26 races prior to the cutoff.

The series champion is determined over the course of the final ten races, scoring points as they would under the old ‘Latford' system.

   
How do the points systems work in NASCAR?

The NASCAR Points System

Points in all three of NASCAR's major system have all been awarded the same way since 1975. Bob Latford, who was a pubic relations official at what was then known as Charlotte Motor Speedway and now known as Lowes Motor Speedway, developed the system. The system awards points from first place to 43rd, or 36th in the Craftsman Truck Series.

The number one finisher is awarded 185 points. Second place 170 -15 points back. From the third to the sixth place positions the separation is five points (sixth place is awarded 150).

From seventh to eleventh the separation is four points. Three points separate positions twelfth until the end.

Five bonus points are also awarded for leading a lap and leading the most laps during a race. NASCAR determines who is leading each lap at the finish line. In other words, a driver who makes a pass for the lead along the backstretch must still be leading when they cross the finish line in order to be credited with leading a lap and gaining the five bonus points.

Only the driver who starts the race is awarded the points for that race. Several examples of relief drivers have appeared through the years. In 2006, two-time champion Tony Stewart who had sustained an injury the week prior, started a race at Dover International Speedway. Early in the race, driver Ricky Rudd replaced Stewart. Stewart was awarded the points for the race as if he had finished Rudd was not.

In addition to driver points there are also owners points. Owner points are scored the same as driver points, the exception being that the owner keeps the points the racecar scores no matter who drives it.

   
What makes up a NASCAR race?

A Basic NASCAR Race

Knowing the basics of a NASCAR race will make you less of a neophyte and more of an informed fan. You can also get an understanding of how tough it is on the drivers and teams by knowing how many different tracks the series travels to and the length of each race.

But keep in mind that a NASCAR race isn't just a single race. NASCAR races are often referred to as ‘events ‘, because in addition to the actual race, there is practice and qualifying that all happen prior. In the Nextel Cup series, the practice and qualifying can happen as many as three days prior to the race although it's usually the previous day. Most Busch and Truck series races compact their practice, qualifying and race all into one day.

Forty-three cars make up a NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series race. Thirty-six trucks make up a full field in the Craftsman Truck Series. The tracks on the circuit range in size from .526 to 2.577 miles in length and include two road courses. The individual races are anywhere from 100 laps to 600 miles in length.

If you can't get a ticket to a race on Sunday, try going on one of the preceding days. Most tracks charge either a nominal fee of nothing at all to watch practice of qualifying and it might be a great introduction to NASCAR without having to sit through a 500-mile race.

   
How is NASCAR organized?

The Divisions of NASCAR

NASCAR consists of three national series: The Nextel Cup Series, The Busch Series and the Craftsman Truck Series. NASCAR also oversees four regional series as well. The NASCAR Grand National Division, which is divided into the Busch East and West Series race cars similar to the Busch Series. NASCAR also sanctions two open wheel series: the Whelen Modified Tour and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. There is also the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, a local grassroots division.

The Nextel Cup Series is the most popular and is known as the ‘top-tier' series. Nextel Cup racecars are based on newer model cars. The Busch Series is akin to a triple ‘A' baseball team. The Busch Series is currently the second most popular form of motorsports in America behind the Nextel Cup series. The Craftsman Truck Series has the shortest season of all the National touring series and a small but ever growing loyal fan base.

The racecars used in the Busch Series are similar to those of the Nextel Cup series with the biggest differences being a short wheelbase and a larger spoiler.

The Nextel Cup series is transitioning to the Car Of Tomorrow and when that happens, most likely in 2008, the Busch Series cars will truly be in a league of their own.

The Craftsman Truck Series race newer model pick-up trucks, highly modified, naturally, for racing .

   
What is NASCAR?

The Basics of NASCAR

NASCAR is an acronym that stands for the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. Founded in 1947, NASCAR is the world's largest stock car racing sanctioning body. From its humble beginnings in the American south when cars were driven off the street and onto the track, NASCAR has grown into the largest spectator sport in America. Owing mainly to safety advances through the years, the ‘stock' cars are now some of the most technologically advanced racing machines in motorsports. And its fanbase has grown from a few thousands people attending races held mainly in the south, to a fanbase estimated at 75 million people, one in three adults.

NASCAR is the second most watched sport in America on television. The most popular of NASCAR's national series is the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series; the Series stages 36 points races at 22 racetracks in 19 states over the course of the 10-month season. But through all its series NASCAR's reach extends to over 1300 events at 95 tracks in 33 states, along with Mexico and Canada.

   
How much does it cost to sponsor a NASCAR team?

Sponsoring a NASCAR Team

While no exact figures have ever been released for the cost of a sponsoring a Nextel Cup team, estimates vary from $12 million to $20 million for an entire season to be a primary sponsor. A major associate sponsorship can run anywhere from $2 million to $5 million. An associate sponsor can expect to start at $50,000 and go up to $1 million.

Sponsorships in the Busch or Truck series are usually less then half that of the Nextel Cup series.

Contingency sponsorship can start at $10,000 and range upwards to $100,000.

The amount that a sponsor pays is determined by the performance of the team and the popularity of the driver.

One of the most closely guarded secrets in NASCAR is how much drivers are paid. Through the years due to lawsuits and the like, a figure of $400,000 as a base salary for a rookie driver has been put forward. That salary doesn't include the driver's share of the prize money and endorsement contracts.

Forbes magazine listed four-time champion Jeff Gordon's worth in 2004 at $23.4 million. He won just over $8 million in prize money in 2004; the difference came from his base salary and outside endorsements.

   
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