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 groups tracks together strictly by size.
An oval racetrack that is less than 1 mile in length.
An oval that is greater than 1 mile in length, but less than 2 miles in length.
A racetrack that is greater than 2 miles in length.
A racing circuit comprised of left- and right-hand turns, as opposed to an oval which is comprised exclusively of left-hand turns.
AccuPredict groups tracks together based on statistical analysis determining the best correlations.
Athlon Sports groups tracks together based on size and track banking.
Christopher Harris groups tracks together based on size and track banking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.|