How The NASCAR Starting Order Is Determined

by Owen Jones

All NASCAR races make use of NASCAR qualifying results to help determine the starting positions of the cars in the race. However, it is not quite as simple as that because the starting positions are not only determined by qualifying results.

Some starting positions are worked out by previous results and a team?s rank, but in general, the qualifying results have the biggest effect on the starting positions of cars in a NASCAR race.

The starting positions for the qualifying races are determined by the luck of a draw or a sequence of draws. The order of the runs is from the lowest number to the highest with higher numbers having a slight advantage because the condition of the race track changes with usage. The more it is used the faster the track becomes.

The NASCAR teams send out their vehicles one at a time based on the numbers that they drew in the random draw. Each car is permitted a predetermined length of track to get up to speed and as it flies over the starting line it gets a green flag to signal that the stop watch has started.

Each car is permitted two laps to establish its speed; the faster time will be its entrance into the qualifiers for the actual starting positions. Drivers have different strategies for these two laps, but one common tactic is to make use of the exterior lane of the track for the first lap.

This allows the car to travel more distance and therefore warm up more. The second lap can then be run along the fastest lines giving a lower qualifying time.

Another approach, albeit a less conventional one, is to forego the second lap because it reduces the strain on the car giving it a better chance in the final, actual race. This is a dangerous approach which not many drivers decide to undertake.

Qualifying results for NASCAR races are based exclusively on the length of time it takes to finish a lap. This clearly has to do with speed, but the actual highest speed over a short distance is not taken into account.

If there is a dead heat for a position, times are compared down to 0.001 (one-thousandth) of a second. If there is still a draw, then the winner is the driver with the highest number of points in the season so far.

The media has a tendency to describe racing results in miles per hour (MPH) which is certainly tracked, but it does not establish the winner. The winner is the one with the fastest lap time, which can also be converted into an overall speed.

Because the media report the results in this way, the general public tends to think that the vehicle achieving the highest MPH will be the winner, but that is incorrect or at least not the whole story.

Sometimes the qualifying rounds have to be cancelled, most often due to very bad weather conditions, then the NASCAR qualifying positions are based on the owner?s previous amount of points.

Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on various subjects, but is currently concerned with Gatso speed camera systems. If you would like to know more, please go to our website at Laser Temperature Gun.

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