NASCAR

Your 2016 Fantasy NASCAR Primer – Track Types

In fantasy NASCAR, tracks play an important part in the decision making process. Some drivers do better at one style of track than another, making them better picks at these tracks. You can use our NASCAR Splits App to filter driver statistics by different tracks and track types. Below is a description of each track type, and subcategory.

Restrictor Plate Tracks

The two restrictor plate tracks on NASCAR’s schedule occur at two high-banked, lengthy tracks, both at least 2.5-miles in length. At these tracks a restrictor plate is installed at the intake of the cars’ engines, thus restricting the inflow of air to the carburetor. This limits power, thus limiting top speed. As a result, all the cars travel at nearly identical speeds in a large pack. The draft plays a major part in these races, as trailing cars are able to “suck up” to cars in front that are pushing air out of the way, allowing for a higher top speed due to reduced air resistance. At restrictor plate tracks, it is very easy to pass, and with the limited number of laps, place differential is very important for DraftKings scoring.

  • Daytona International Speedway
  • Talladega Superspeedway

Large Oval Tracks

The large ovals comprise of the medium-to-high banked tracks anywhere from 1.5 to two miles in length. Aerodynamics are very important at these tracks, as top speed and mechanical grip are both desired to go fast on the straightaways and turns respectively.

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • Auto Club Speedway
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Chicagoland Speedway
  • Kansas Speedway
  • Kentucky Speedway
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • Michigan International Speedway
  • Texas Motor Speedway

Subcategory – Heavy Tire Wear

At tracks with heavy tire wear, it is important to be good both on the short run and on the long run, as tires wear quickly and produce lower overall speeds. Teams may use the strategy of short pitting, which is pitting for new tires despite not yet being near empty on gas. This allows them to make up time on the track compared to cars on old tires.

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • Auto Club Speedway
  • Chicagoland Speedway
  • Texas Motor Speedway

Subcategory – Low Tire Wear

At the tracks with low tire wear, track position is important as it’s much harder to pass, particularly so on the 1.5-mile tracks. Place differential is harder to come by so it is important to balance a good finishing position with place differential at these tracks.

  • Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Kansas Speedway
  • Kentucky Speedway
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • Michigan International Raceway

Subcategory – Two Mile Ovals

The two mile ovals are both D-shaped tri-ovals, two miles in length. Both tracks are wide and feature very high top speeds, allowing for easier passing than at other tracks. Horsepower and minimizing drag is very important at these two tracks, so cars can go as fast as possible.

  • Auto Club Speedway
  • Michigan International Raceway

Subcategory – Quad-Ovals

Quad-ovals are the 1.5-mile tracks that have two doglegs on the main straightaway near the start-finish line. They race similarly in that they are all highly banked, high speed ovals, but being able to turn through the corners is of utmost importance. The key to doing so is through downforce and mechanical grip to maintain speed while making the turns.

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Texas Motor Speedway

Subcategory –1.5-Mile Tri-Ovals

These tracks feature a single sweeping turn for the main straightaway and are D-shaped. The main straight turn does not require a driver to get off the gas or brake. Like the quad-ovals, being able to take the turns as fast as possible is key to getting around these tracks.

  • Chicagoland Speedway
  • Kansas Speedway
  • Kentucky Speedway
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Steep Tracks

The steep tracks are exciting because they allow for very high speeds relative to the length of the track. As a result, cars often will take the high line to maintain a higher speed rather than taking the shorter distance around the bottom. This allows for a style of racing where “rim riders” (drivers who are great at driving a loose car around the top of the track) are able to perform well.

  • Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Darlington Raceway
  • Dover International Speedway
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway

Subcategory – Concrete Steep Tracks

The concrete steep tracks are both one mile or less in length. Concrete tends to have more grip than asphalt, and allow for tires to be more consistent over a long run. This means track position is very important at these tracks and passing is more difficult. Additionally, the track temperature stays more consistent, so drivers that tend to be fast early in the race are also fast late in the race.

  • Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Dover International Speedway

Subcategory – Asphalt Steep Tracks

The asphalt steep tracks are both greater than a mile in length. Asphalt tracks change more as the sun moves in and out of clouds or sets for a night race, meaning a car that is good under one condition might be worse under another condition, necessitating more changes to the setup over the course of the race. This means there’s more potential for pass differential at these tracks compared to their concrete brethren.

  • Darlington Raceway
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway

Flat Tracks

Since the flat tracks are not steeply banked, the lack of banking provides no aid in making a turn through the corner. Therefore, more braking is typically required at these tracks. That requires a driver who has a good feel for the car and is good at getting on and off the gas and on and off the brakes. They tend to be harder to pass at due to these tracks typically offering only one line through the corner, rather than multiple lines.

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Martinsville Speedway
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Phoenix International Raceway
  • Pocono Raceway
  • Richmond International Raceway

Subcategory – Long Flat Tracks

The longer flat tracks provide interesting race strategy because of their length. A car can get on and off pit road, having changed all four tires and filled up the gas tank without losing a lap. This leads to interesting pit strategies, which very often result in fuel mileage races, where teams try to pit very early for their final pit stop in hopes of making one less pit stop than everyone else. As a result, randomness can be introduced. These tracks provide good opportunity to differentiate your lineup in GPPs due to the inherent randomness of fuel mileage races.

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Pocono Raceway

Subcategory – Short Flat Tracks

The shorter flat tracks can be treacherous for drivers starting near the back, as it is quite possible they lose a lap (or multiple laps) early on. If that is the case, perseverance is key. Track position is extremely important at these tracks.

  • Martinsville Speedway
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Phoenix International Raceway
  • Richmond International Raceway

Road Course Tracks

The road course tracks feature both left and right turns. Due to the length of the track and the typically slower speeds, it is possible to pit without losing a lap. However, it is also very difficult to pass at these tracks because there are relatively few passing zones. Infineon overall is slower and more technical, while Watkins Glen is higher speed, allowing for more passing opportunity relative to Infineon.

  • Infineon Raceway
  • Watkins Glen International

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Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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