Nothing gets the juices flowing and the brain pumping like a hearty sports debate. From which football player is the greatest of all time to which sporting event you want to go to, there's always something to debate and discuss with friends, family, co-workers around the water cooler at work, etc.
Now there's one debate in sports that could definitely get the brain pumping (or piss people off depending on who you talk with). In NASCAR, there are two main tracks that racers go on: super speedways (tracks that are 2-2.5 miles in length for a single lap) and short tracks (tracks that are under 1 mile in length for a single lap). The debate with this is which track is the more exciting and entertaining to watch?
As someone born and bred into auto racing, having been to just about every small oval in the New England area, you might assume I would prefer the small track action. Truth be told at the tender age of 4 years old I attended my first NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway, "The Birthplace of Speed". I was amazed at the sheer size of the complex having really only been around mile or less ovals back home.
The reason these monsters like Daytona and Talladega are so enjoying to me is the raw physics involved in racing these tracks. Imagine for a second being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, at 200 miles per hour and having to judge the invisible air coming off of the car in front of you and behind you in order to make it home that day? This is what these drivers have to do for 500 miles.
Bump drafting, which is pushing the car in front of you for a run on the car in front of them, side drafting, literally pulling the air off the car next to you to slow them down in order for you to pass. The amount of skill needed for these tracks is as amazing as it is intense.
I'm sure we'll have some people read this saying "haha they just turn left" but starting this season we have an unprecedented amount of road courses in the NASCAR season, yes, they turn right sometimes too. As someone who was never a huge fan of the road courses, places like the Daytona "Roval" really hit on all cylinders for a guy like me. Now please don't misunderstand, I haven't forgotten the good ole small tracks we all know and love. In fact the new SRX Racing series, which will be run on short tracks and dirt this coming year has me really intrigued and I look forward to renewing my love but the big boy tracks always make me slide the chair closer to the TV.
A lot of people watch the super speedways for the "Big One", the big multi car crash which almost always happens, but take the time to learn the aerodynamics of what keeps these cars on the track and what it truly takes to drive them and you'll have a whole new sport to enjoy.
Ryan L. Fox
You know the old saying of ‘Bigger is better’? Course you do, probably heard it a million times. But when it comes to motorsports, especially in the world of NASCAR, bigger isn’t always better. While most fans and viewers prefer to watch racers zip along on the super speedways, real fans know the excitement comes from watching the short tracks.
As of right now, there are 3 NASCAR tracks that they run in the Cup series circuit:
Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA
Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA
Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN
Each of these tracks are a mile around, all oval-shaped with short straightaways and quick, steep turns that just pop up right as drivers start to get speed. Because of this, it forces NASCAR drivers and their pit crew to change up their strategies and affects their decision-making process, which in turn provides more excitement. How long do you stay out for on the track? Can you manage with just doing a quick 2-tire change set instead of the full 4-tires? Can you hold out on fueling until the next caution?
Then there’s the drama.
With so little room for error driving on a short track, even the slightest mishap could be devastating than compared to driving on a super speedway. If a driver’s pit stop takes even a fraction of a second too long, they can lose so many spots and could even find themselves down a lap. In the same breath, a driver that is trailing in the bottom of the pack could find themselves in a matter of seconds. On one lap, they could be running in 33rd and then the next lap they could be 23rd and then on the next lap, they could be in the top 10.
And of course, the risk of wrecking is higher on short tracks than on super speedways. The tracks dip more on the inside (compared to intermediate and super speedways), making it uneven in level. Should a driver end up sliding down on the inside during a turn and then move up to straight out on the straightaway, the sudden shift in balance on the track can send the car sliding around and smash into other cars on the track. Just one a split second of sliding up or down the track could result in a devastating, which is one of the reasons why many viewers tune in for (gotta fill that feeling of bloodlust somehow).
You can get away with a lax mentality on a super speedway (i.e. going 3-wide into a turn) but on a short track, it’s you need to be on your toes, be aware of your surroundings more, and bring your A-game. And that's what fans wanna see.
Who won? Which side of the debate do you agree with? Let us know with your comments down below.
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