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When you turn on your TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch a Nextel Cup race, you're actually seeing the culmination of several days' effort. Nextel Cup Teams normally arrive at the track on Friday morning, Busch and Truck teams on Thursday. As soon as the garage opens, teams unload their primary cars, toolboxes and assorted equipment. They then make any adjustments needed for the first practice session.
Practice sessions are held to get the cars or trucks set up to qualify. Once qualifying is over and the field is set in the Nextel Cup series more practice is held. The final practice session for the Cup Series is called ‘Happy Hour'. This is the final chance for teams to make any adjustments before the actual race, usually the next day.
The Busch and Truck Series will usually compress everything including their race into one day. When all three series are racing on the same weekend, the Truck series will usually race on Friday, the Busch Series on Saturday and the Cup Series on Sunday.
Any race other than Cup races are known as ‘support races' and can be anything from the Busch and Truck series, to Busch North modifieds to Legend's series races.
Around the outside of the track a festival atmosphere slowly builds starting about midweek. Campers will roll in, merchandise vendors will set up their trailers along ‘souvenir row' and major sponsors will put out displays. Hundreds of thousands of people will occupy a temporary city. As soon as the checkered flag falls Sunday, the process of tearing it all down and moving to the next city begins.
So what you see on TV is only a small fraction of what really goes on, and you don't even have to attend the Cup race to enjoy the sights and sounds of a NASCAR event.