by Jeffrey Price
on February 11, 2010 @ 00:00:00
Short tracks (one mile or less)
Bristol Motor Speedway
Location: Bristol, Tenn.
Analysis: Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting tracks to watch a race, whether in person or on the couch. It is one of the shortest tracks on the circuit and has the privilege of being the steepest banked track that NASCAR runs on. This results in greater speeds and cars exchanging more paint than positions. The track was repaved in 2007, adding two more grooves to the track that was known for just having one. The key to winning on this track is staying out of trouble; the best way to do that is to stay at the front of the field, making qualifying very important.
Dover International Speedway
Location: Dover, Del.
Analysis: Dover International Speedway is a unique track, perhaps most similar to Darlington Raceway, due to its relatively short length and high banking. Like Darlington, the track owns an ominous nickname, "The Monster Mile." In 1995, the surface of the track received a "Monster Makeover;" Dover is one of three of NASCAR's concrete-paved ovals. The car setup focuses on the long, sweeping turns, as drivers do not want their car too loose entering the them. A pass will often take over half the track to complete. The unique track surface and configuration, combined with the high-banking, leaves drivers little room for error. One-car spins often result in multi-car pileups.
Location: Martinsville, Va.
Analysis: Martinsville Speedway is relatively flat. This combined with its paper clip shape makes it difficult to pass. With passing at a premium, track position is a must for racers. If a driver attempts a pass, it will usually be to the inside, because of this, cars hook the bottom in hopes of holding off potential passers. A successful pass will almost certainly require a driver to either out-brake the lead car or nudge the car out of way, and often both occur. All told, there isn't a track on the Sprint Cup circuit where brakes are more important due to slowing out of the relatively long straight-aways into the sharp turns.
Phoenix International Raceway
Analysis: Phoenix International Raceway poses a unique challenge, as its set of long, sweeping turns is very different from one another. If a car is good in one turn it is likely to be loose or tight in the other. Teams spend the race making adjustments to find the right balance of speed and handling in each turn. Adjustments are also necessary to keep up with the track, which will get hotter as the race wears on. Passing on corner entry is the safer bet. Drivers are able to pass coming out of the turns, but most accidents occur when cars run out of space and pinch each other coming out of the corner exits.
Richmond International Raceway
Location: Richmond, Va.
Analysis: Richmond International Raceway is a favorite race track for many drivers. It is known for its side-by-side racing and plenty of passing. Richmond is a downforce track, so teams will play with their shock packages. Brakes are also important, as passes are often a result of getting into a turn first and out-braking the other car. Turns 1 and 2 are the tighter part of the track, naturally where most of this track's accidents occur. Richmond hosts the last race before the Chase, adding to the track's reputation for holding some of NASCAR's most exciting races.Also see:
Intermediate track analysis
Road course analysis
Track details overview
About Jeffrey Price
Price has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.
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