How Do They Work Out The NASCAR Starting Order?

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 determined by previous results and a team?s standing, but in general, the qualifying results have the main impact 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 sports car is allowed two laps to prove its speed; the faster time will be its entry into the qualifiers for the actual starting places. Drivers have different tactics for these two laps, but one common tactic is to make use of the outside lane of the track for the first lap.

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

Another tactic, albeit a less common one, is to forego the second lap because it lessens the stress on the car giving it a superior chance in the final, actual race. This is a risky strategy which not many drivers decide to take.

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

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

The media tends to report racing results in miles per hour (MPH) which is definitely tracked, but it does not determine the winner. The winner is the one with the fastest lap time, which can also be transformed into an overall speed.

Because the media give details of the results in this manner, the general public tends to believe that the vehicle reaching the highest MPH will be the winner, but that is false or at least not the whole truth.

Sometimes the qualifying rounds have to be postponed indefinitely, most often due to extreme weather conditions, then the NASCAR qualifying positions are based on the owner?s previous total of points.

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