The Rules of NASCAR Racing qualifying EXPLAINED :
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Ninh explains, the Rules of NASCAR
The object of the race is to be the first
to cross the finish line after completing
a number of laps around a track.
NASCAR racing, also known as stock car racing,
the United States. And is contested in a number
of races throughout the calendar year.
Drivers will drive a specially modified version
of a normal passenger car, which are designed
to go around a track in as fast a time as
To determine their starting position in the
race, each driver will complete laps of the
track on their own. The fastest driver will
start on the grid in the 1st position, the
2nd fastest in the 2nd position etc. until
all the drivers are assigned a position to
start the race. This is known as qualifying.
Once qualifying has determined the starting
order, the actual race is usually held on
a separate day. Drivers will warm up their
cars by following the pace car in the position
that they will start. Once the green flag
is waved, the race begins.
NASCAR racing is typically contested in 400,
500 or 600 laps and is segmented into 3 stages.
Stage 1 is roughly 25% of the overall number
of laps in a race.
The driver who crosses the line first at the
end of Stage 1 is awarded 10 regular season
points and a playoff point. The second driver
is awarded 9 regular season points all the
way down to 1 point for 10th place.
The race carries on into Stage 2 – which
is exactly the same as stage one.
10 points for winning the stage plus one playoff
point, 9 points to 2nd place etc.
Stage 3 is compacted ‘traditional race’
and is roughly 50% of the total laps.
Winning this final stage wins you the overall
race, which is worth 40 regular season points,
with 2nd place getting 35 points 3rd place
getting 34 points etc.
Winning the race automatically guarantees
you a place in the playoffs and also adds
5 playoff points to your total score
So what is the playoffs?
The Playoffs, previously known as ‘the chase’,
is used to determine who the overall champion
After the first 26 races, all the regular
season points are added up and the top 10
get additional playoff points added to their
It’s these playoff points that are added
up and all the race winners plus the next
four highest scoring drivers qualify for the
This is an elimination style format, where
16 cars contest the next three races for points.
The top 12 (including race winners) are through
to the next round.
The bottom 4 are eliminated.
12 becomes 8, 8 becomes 4.
Only 4 cars are left at the final race of
the season at Homestead, Miami.
The driver who finishes the highest in the
final race of the season is declared NASCAR
It used to be a lot simpler. Prior to 2004
NASCAR used to follow the Formula 1 style
of points. The driver with the most points
after the last race of the season was declared
the champion. So much easier to explain.
If you managed to understand the somewhat
confusing format, that’s great, but there
about before going to or watching a race.
Each NASCAR track may look exactly the same,
but all of them vary in terms of distance,
terrain, track angle and difficulty.
This means that teams and drivers have to
prepare, and set up their cars differently
for every single race.
Some tracks are so fast that to race on them
with full power cars is actually quite dangerous.
To lower the power of the cars, a restrictor
plate is placed between the carburettor and
the engine, to reduce the amount of power
the cars can produce. This is so that drivers
can drive safer (albeit slower) than normal.
These are known as restrictor plate or plate
Unlike Formula 1 where the cars are quite
a distance from each other, in NASCAR – cars
follow each other extremely closely. But why?
Due to aerodynamics and the forces of drag
– cars will stay close together to share
the drag, and two cars together can drive
faster than one car alone. This results in
chains of cars staying together. They are
forming a temporary truce to help each other
to drive faster. But eventually, all of them
are going to try and break away to try and
cross the finish line first.
Loose and Tight
You’ll sometimes hear drivers use the terms
loose and tight.
This is where drag and aerodynamics adversely
affects the car.
Loose refers to when the back of car wants
to turn into the outer wall causing the car
to oversteer into the inside of the track.
Tight is where the front of the car wants
to turn into the outer wall causing the car
to understeer into the outside wall of the
Cars are allowed to go back to their own team’s
garage (or pit) to change their tyres or refuel.
This is known as a pit stop and a crew of
6 people are so fast at changing 4 tyres and
adding fuel that this can be done in about
However, this adds time to your race and could
cost you valuable positions in the final standings.
During a race, marshalls will use flags to
indicate things to the drivers.
I’m not going to cover single every flag,
but the most common are:
A Green Flag – This flag is used to start
or restart a race.
A Green & White Checkered Flag is used to
signal the end of Stage 1 or Stage 2.
A Yellow Flag – Also known as a caution
flag, is where all drivers must reduce in
speed and cannot overtake.
The black and white checkered Flag – is
the famous flag that denotes the end of a
I could talk more about engines, tyres, the
overtime line, side drafting etc. but the
points I’ve talked about are the most salient
ones for a beginner to understand.
Check out my Daytona 500 article on my other
channel to see what it’s like to experience
a NASCAR race.
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in the meantime – enjoy NASCAR racing