A casual guide to NASCAR

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

So you call yourself a sports fan huh?

You miss the MLB, NBA, and NHL, yes? Well, here’s the bad news, the MLB and MLBPA are at an impasse at the moment, the NHL hasn’t even had discussions about returning, and NBA has no plans yet. However, there is great news as sports have come back. The UFC returned last Saturday, and NASCAR will be returning Sunday afternoon at the historic Darlington Raceway.

If you call yourself a sports fan, then you have no reason to not tune into The Real Heroes 400 on Sunday. You want sports, here they are. MotorSPORTS are SPORTS.

So how can a new NASCAR viewer/hater get into the sport? Let me explain as simple as I can.

Pick a driver or multiple drivers

40 drivers are competing in the Cup race on Sunday, and if you go through the starting lineup, you can just pick any driver that piques your interest so you can follow them throughout the race.

When it comes to picking an individual, you can pick by a paint scheme you like. If you like bright, vibrant colors, the Toyotas and Joe Gibbs Racing love to bring it. Hendrick Motorsports also has some solid, bright schemes as well. If you have a lucky number, then its simple.

Do you prefer an up-and-coming youngster or a proven veteran? If you want a young gun, you have drivers like Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, and William Byron out of Team Hendrick, who all should wind up with a victory in 2020. Bowman won the race at Auto Club Speedway back in March. Ryan Blaney is another youngster, and he was off to a hot start during the first races. If not for some bad luck, Blaney could already have two wins on the year.

Maybe you want a veteran who runs at the front for majority of races. Look toward a Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick or Martin Truex Jr. These three are in the hunt for the championship every year. He’s not old, but he’s been in the Cup Series since 2008, and that’s Joey Logano. He won the championship in 2018, and won races at Las Vegas and Phoenix this season.

If you want to pick a group of drivers, go by manufacturer. Whether you like a Chevy, Ford or Toyota, there are plenty of drivers to pick from who drive any of those manufacturers.

Races

Yes, the races are long, but if you are sold into the action that occurs on-track, and you have a driver to follow, you will have fun. These are not just men driving in circles. From the grip of the track, to the skill of off-throttle time, and handling a loose car, along with all the G-Forces that take a brutal physical toll on each driver.

The races are divided into three stages, which has been the most controversial aspect over the last couple of years for NASCAR. It’s hard to explain why NASCAR did this, but the top 10 at the end of each stage get points, and the winner of the stage gets a playoff point that goes toward the 10-race playoffs.

Cautions

Cautions, or the yellow flag, come out for crashes on track, fluid on the track, or debris on the track. This fluid is usually from engine ruptures or oil leaks. Drivers can only go to the garage and re-enter if it is a mechanical issue. If they go to the garage for car damage, they are not allowed to re-enter the race.

For everyone else not the cause of a caution, they will be led by a pace car that will have them drive around the track for a couple of laps at pit road speed so that workers can clean the track of any debris or fluid. One lap before going back green, cars will line up double-file before the restart.

Pit Stops

Throughout the race, whether it be under caution or doing green flag runs, cars will come down pit road for service. Usually, it is to change tires or to get fuel. Tires are changed because they wear on the track. Depending on strategy, drivers can take either two or four tires are stops. Drivers also can request services where the drivers can get their cars to tighten up if they are too lose or vice versa.

Standings/Playoffs

Obviously, points are based on where you finish, and the top-36 finishers are rewarded from the winner getting 40 points, second-place receiving 35 points, and 36th-place receiving one point. Race winners are automatically locked into the playoffs. After 26 races in the Cup Series, they will hold the 16-driver playoffs, which consist of 10 tracks, with four rounds. The Round of 16, Round of 12, and Round of 8 each have three tracks that culminate in the championship finale at Phoenix Raceway in November. The highest finisher of the final four drivers at Phoenix will be awarded the championship.

Different Tracks

No two races are alike, and there are different types of tracks that have different disciplines.

Superspeedways are the most anticipated races of the year. These types of tracks include Daytona and Talladega. Cars run in packs throughout the race, which lead to numerous leaders and lead changes, and the dreaded Big One.

1.5-2-mile ovals consist of tracks like Charlotte Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Michigan, Las Vegas, and Darlington. While they are all different in shape and tire wear, they are the same in length. Cars will be spread out on long green flag runs, but for the first couple of laps, they run in tight packs.

Short tracks display the most emotion from drivers due to the contact that takes place on track. These types of tracks include Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond. These tracks are less than a mile long and truly show the best drivers in the sport are due to the lack of aerodynamics playing a factor. If you like a frantic pace, where drivers are bumping and moving each other, these are the races for you.

Road Courses are a wheelman’s dream. These consist of Watkins Glen, Sonoma, and the Charlotte Roval, which is at Charlotte Motor Speedway, These tracks are over two-miles long with numerous turns that are left and right. Some of the best finishes in NASCAR history have taken place at these tracks. These are super fun to watch because of all the variables that come with them.

If you love sports, then tune into FOX on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EST. You won’t regret it and contrary to popular belief, NASCAR is an entertaining sports organization to watch.

Let’s get back to racing!

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