NASCAR TRACKS

TRACK TYPES, SIMILAR TRACKS AND GROUPINGS

There are currently 23 different tracks that are used in the 36 races that compose the 2013 NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

Grouping similar NASCAR tracks is a useful fantasy NASCAR strategy during driver statistical research to create a larger, more recent pool of data. Consider Homestead-Miami Speedway where NASCAR races once per season. Comparing driver statistics here for six races your data spans six NASCAR seasons. Similar track groupings, as suggested in our exclusive AccuPredict NASCAR Driver finish position prediction method, groups Homestead-Miami with four other similar tracks. Now, one NASCAR season contains eight data contributors for Homestead-Miami fantasy NASCAR research since three of the four similar tracks host two NASCAR races per season.

Listed in the first four tabs are four popular similar track groupings. The first is the official NASCAR track grouping based completely on track size. The AccuPredict track groupings are based on extensive statistical analysis of driver performance and track correlations. The Athlon track groups are used by Athlon Sports in their annual fantasy NASCAR driver rankings magazine. The fourth NASCAR track groupings, labeled C Harris, is attributed to Christopher Harris when writing for ESPN. Chris' original article was the foundation for our initial usage and respect for similar track groups.

NASCAR Track Groupings

NASCAR groups tracks together strictly by size.

SHORT TRACK

An oval racetrack that is less than 1 mile in length.

  • Bristol
  • Dover
  • Martinsville
  • Phoenix
  • Richmond

INTERMEDIATE TRACK

An oval that is greater than 1 mile in length, but less than 2 miles in length.

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Chicagoland
  • Darlington
  • Homestead
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Las Vegas
  • New Hampshire
  • Texas

SUPERSPEEDWAY

A racetrack that is greater than 2 miles in length.

  • Daytona
  • Fontana
  • Indianapolis
  • Michigan
  • Pocono
  • Talladega

ROAD COURSE

A racing circuit comprised of left- and right-hand turns, as opposed to an oval which is comprised exclusively of left-hand turns.

  • Infineon
  • Watkins Glen

AccuPredict Track Groupings

AccuPredict groups tracks together based on statistical analysis determining the best correlations.

FLAT TRACKS

  • Indianapolis
  • Martinsville
  • New Hampshire
  • Phoenix
  • Pocono
  • Richmond

STEEP TRACKS

  • Bristol
  • Darlington
  • Dover
  • Homestead-Miami
  • Las Vegas

LARGE OVAL TRACKS

  • Atlanta
  • Fontana
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Texas

ROAD COURSE

  • Infineon
  • Watkins Glen

RESTRICTOR PLATE

  • Daytona
  • Talladega

Athlon Sports Track Groupings

Athlon Sports groups tracks together based on size and track banking.

SHORT TRACKS

  • Bristol
  • Martinsville
  • Richmond

INTERMEDIATE TRACKS

  • Atlanta
  • Fontana
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Darlington
  • Dover
  • Homestead-Miami
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Las Vegas
  • Michigan
  • Texas

FLAT TRACKS

  • Indianapolis
  • New Hampshire
  • Phoenix
  • Pocono

ROAD COURSE

  • Infineon
  • Watkins Glen

RESTRICTOR PLATE

  • Daytona
  • Talladega

Christopher Harris Track Groupings

Christopher Harris groups tracks together based on size and track banking.

RESTRICTOR PLATE

There are only two restrictor plate tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Both Daytona & Talladega use horsepower-zapping plates over the carburetors to limit the amount of air coming into the engine. The entire race is run in a tight-pack of traffic. The team that gets their car too handle the best in this traffic (and that has luck on their side that day) usually do the best.

  • Daytona
  • Talladega

ROAD COURSE

There are only two road courses on the NASCAR circuit. In the past it used to be the 'road course ringers' that were brought in by teams to replace their regular 'go fast, turn left' driver. Not so anymore. Although some 'ringers' still run for a few start-up teams or those flirting with falling out of the top-35 in points, most all of the NASCAR regulars have gotten adept at racing the road courses.

  • Infineon
  • Watkins Glen

FLAT BANKED TRACKS

These four 'flat' tracks range in banking from 2° to 14° and vary in length from .526 miles to 1.058 miles. And while not a universal statement of 'good at one then good at all' of these tracks is true, the relative similar flatness of these tracks does create a similar racing style and patience needed by the driver. As well, it is important that the teams hit on the set-up of the car to give it the ability to turn well in the turns.

  • Martinsville
  • New Hampshire
  • Phoenix
  • Richmond

SHALLOW BANKED TRACKS

These two tracks are shallow-banked, but they're much larger than the 'Flat Banked' group, so they warrant their own category. The Brickyard in Indy obviously requires a lot of horsepower, but it's a shallow-banked place, so it's not at all an equivalent of your superspeedways. Pocono is a tri-cornered place set up to run partly like a speedway and partly like a road course; teams tend to set their cars up to work best off of Turn 3, the 6° turn, which is why we find that racers who do well at shallow Indy tend to do well at Pocono.

  • Indianapolis
  • Pocono

STEEP BANKED TRACKS

Steep tracks that don't adhere to the cookie-cutter formula, and they're certainly the loosest group on this list. Bristol is often referred to as a "mini-Dover" (or, rather, Dover is referred to as a "Big Bristol"); at 36°, Bristol is the steepest-banked joint on the circuit. Dover is concrete, and the high torque and aggressive driving styles that work on one usually work on the other. Same for the new configuration of Homestead, which used to be a flat track, but acquired some steep corners a few years ago. That grouping of three has worked pretty well for us in the past. The wild cards here are Darlington and Las Vegas. Darlington is definitely steep-banked enough to qualify for this group, but its sandpaper racing surface and difficult, narrow exits out of the turns make it its own animal. Darlington also encourages sliding out of the corners, which gives it something in common with Texas, among others. Meanwhile, like Homestead, Las Vegas Motor Speedway used to be a flat track, until its owners rebuilt the track's turns in the fall of 2006. Now its configuration is something like the new Homestead.

  • Bristol
  • Darlington
  • Dover
  • Homestead-Miami
  • Las Vegas

COOKIE-CUTTER TRACKS

Other than perhaps the road courses and superspeedways, this is the tightest grouping, because these cousin cookie-cutters are damn well near identical. If a guy dominates one, it's often safe to assume he's going to perform quite well at the others.

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Texas

ODD FIVE TRACKS

This isn't a straight-up fivesome. The tracks which bear the most similarity are the two 2-milers, Fontana and Michigan. They're both Penske creations, and while the Fontana venue doesn't get the winters that the Michigan track does, they still ride relatively similarly. Kentucky and Chicagoland both have single events each year, and are basically stand-alone tracks. Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland all bear a semi-strong resemblance. Yes, Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland are all 1.5-milers, but they really don't resemble the Atlanta-Charlotte-Texas triumvirate.

  • Chicagoland
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Fontana
  • Michigan

Track Shapes and Sizes

NASCAR tracks range in size from the smallest track, Martinsville Speedway which is 0.526 miles, to the largest track Talladega Superspeedway which is 2.66 miles.

Track Shapes

  • TRUE OVAL: The traditional shape of a speedway, marked by two sweeping 180° turns, each connected by two straightaways of equal length.
  • TRI-OVAL: An alternative configuration of the true oval, the tri-oval features a curved front stretch connecting the exit of turn 4 and the entry to turn 1.
  • QUAD-OVAL: An alternative configuration of the tri-oval, the quad-oval features a squared off front stretch connecting the exit of Turn 4 and the entry to Turn 1.
  • D-SHAPED OVAL: Like a quad-oval but with a more pronounced since the frontstretch bows out like the letter 'D'.
  • ROAD COURSE: A racing circuit that is comprised of left- and right-hand turns, as opposed to an oval which is comprised exclusively of left-hand turns.

Track Types Through the Season

Since we are considering track types and groupings along with how they can help you in winning your fantasy NASCAR competitions it is important to look at how the whole NASCAR season is comprised with these different tracks.

METHOD S* C**   S* C** S* C** S* C** S* C**
NASCAR Short 28% 30% Intermediate 39% 60% Superspeedway 28% 10%
AccuPredict Flat 31% 40% Steep 19% 20% Large Oval 33% 40%
Athlon Short 17% 20% Flat 19% 20% Intermediate 47% 60%
C Harris Flat 22% 30% Shallow 8% 0% Cookie-Cutter 14% 20% Steep 19% 20% Odd 5 19% 20%
S* = 36-race NASCAR Season. C** = 10-race NASCAR Chase.

Common Track Terms

  • Apron: The flat part of the racetrack below the banking. The apron is not part of the racetrack and using it during a race usually has one of two consequences. It either brings a penalty from NASCAR race control or it'll likely cause a driver to spin if he or she is at speed.
  • Asphalt: One of two different paving surfaces that NASCAR's top series race on (the other being concrete). Basic asphalt is comprised of tar, asphalt, rock and sand.
  • Backstretch: The straightaway opposite of the start/finish line. On an oval, it usually connects Turn Two with Turn Three.
  • Banking: Measured in degrees, it is the maximum angle of the track, from horizontal, in a turn or on the straightaways.
  • Catchfence: The fence that lines the outside edge of a racetrack above the wall. It is designed to prevent crashing cars and their parts from going into the stands.
  • Concrete: One of two different paving surfaces that NASCAR's top series race on (the other being asphalt). Basic concrete is comprised of cement, sand and gravel. Rain usually washes away any rubber that accumulates during a race weekend, making the surface slippery until more rubber can be rubbed in by cars circulating the track.
  • Frontstretch: The part of the racetrack that connects the exit of Turn 4 to the entry of Turn 1. Typically, it's where the start/finish line is located.
  • The Groove (High & Low): The path through a turn that is the optimum racing line. Some tracks have both a high groove and a low groove. In the high groove, a car is faster through the corner, has a faster exit speed, but must travel a greater distance. In the low groove, the car has less distance to travel, prevents others from getting inside and passing, but sacrifices speed through the corner and exit speed.
  • Infield: The enclosed area within the confines of the racetrack.
  • Inside Line: The racing line that is closest to the inside of a straightaway or the apex a turn.
  • Marbles: Small to large pieces of rubber that collect on the outside of turns. You don't want them on your tires as they reduce traction.
  • Outside Line: The path a driver must take to pass somebody who is keeping his/her car down on at the bottom of the track through the corners.
  • Pit Road: The stretch of paved roadway immediately off the racing circuit that has each race team's pit stall located off to one side, usually to the left.
  • Pit Position: The location of a car's assigned pit stall along pit road. Pit position is selected by the individual teams with the pole position choosing first and the last-place qualifier choosing last.
  • Pit Stall / Pit Box: The area allotted to each car/team, along pit road, to conduct pit stops during a race.
  • SAFER Barriers: Steel and Foam Energy Reduction Barrier, sometimes called a soft wall, located at most tracks where NASCAR races. Its steel and polystyrene foam construction spreads out the force of a car's impact along a longer portion of the concrete wall, which reduces the dangerous deceleration forces experienced by the driver and also reduces damage to the car.
  • Turns 1, 2, 3 & 4: Think of it this way: On an oval, turn 1 is the first half of the first 180° turn and turn 2 is the second half. Turn 3 is the first half of the second 180° turn, and turn 4 is the second half.
  • Victory Lane: Also known as the Winner's Circle. Where race winners go to receive their trophy and winner's check.