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NASCAR: Race Tracks

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NASCAR has races on about 26 racetracks throughout the United states. Most of the tracks hold races for all the NASCAR series of races, however, some are unique to a particular series. Many of the more popular tracks like Daytona Speedway are also raced twice a year.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Source: US Air Force
Each NASCAR racetrack is unique. This is one of the things that makes NASCAR so interesting. From week to week there are different challenges that the race car drivers and the race teams have to meet. One week it may be tire wear, the next it's gas mileage, then horsepower, and then handling.

The shape and length of each NASCAR track varies. The most standard shape is the oval track. These racetracks vary in length from the shortest track, which is Martinsville Speedway, at 0.53 miles to the longest track, which is the Talladega Superspeedway at 2.66 miles. Another popular type of track is the tri-oval like the Michigan International Speedway. Lowe's Motor Speedway in North Carolina is a quad-oval and Darlington Raceway is an oval with different length ends. One of the most uniquely shaped tracks is Pocono Raceway which is a triangular oval shape. To really change things up, NASCAR has two road races that are a complex shape with all sorts of turns.

There are three general terms used for the length of racetracks. If a racetrack is less than 1 mile, the track is called a short track. If it's greater than 2 miles long, the racetrack is called a Superspeedway. NASCAR racetracks that fit in between these two lengths are usually call intermediate tracks.

Another item that makes each racetrack unique is the banking on the turns. Each track has it's own degree of banking. This makes for different top speeds and different handling on each coarse again making the drivers and race cars adjust from week to week on how they prepare and race.

President on the track at the Daytona 500
The President at the Daytona 500
Source: White House
There are two racetracks that used to be restrictor plate tracks. These are Talladega superspeedway and Daytona. These are long 2 mile plus tracks that have high banking allowing the race cars to get to extremely high and dangerous speeds of over 200 miles per hour. In an effort to make these racetracks more safe, cars were required to have restrictor plates to slow them down. Some race car drivers argued that this actually made the racing more dangerous as the race cars bunch up close together in order to draft off each other. A single car wreck at the front of the pack could cause a huge multi-car crash as cars that are just inches from each other pile up. As a result, these tracks no longer require restrictor plates and other rules have been put in place to try and slow the cars down.

All in all, it's the uniqueness of each racetrack that makes NASCAR interesting to watch from week to week. Different race teams and driver excel on different types of tracks, but the champion must excel on all of them.

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More NASCAR:
NASCAR Races and Racetracks
NASCAR Cars
NASCAR Glossary
NASCAR Drivers
List of NASCAR Race Tracks

Auto Racing Biographies:
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Danica Patrick


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