All About NASCAR
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Motorsports have a rich heritage, and America's stock car industry is no different. The history of NASCAR racing has come to be associated with many things, some unsavory and some incorrect. But, no matter how you feel about the sport you have to respect it. The only sport in the United States with more viewers and fans than NASCAR is professional football. When a sport is this popular, if you're not already onboard, you should learn a little bit more about it.
Founded in 1948, the body known as the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) governs and sanctions all major stock car races, and other motor sports events, in North America. NASCAR regulates everything from race venues to merchandising and even car safety standards. The company sanctions truck racing and various modified body events, although they are most famous for their stock car racing series. These series comprise around 30 races over 10 months beginning in February. Often, NASCAR is used synonymously in reference to the Sprint Cup Series - the largest and most prestigious racing competition for professional stock car teams.
The Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series are NASCAR's premier racing events, the former being the most prominent. The series are run around a point system, the most significant points are awarded for finishing placement, laps led and most laps led. This year, the Sprint Cup Series has 36 point-awarding races. All races award the same number of points, so the stakes are the same all season; winning big races is just as important as winning the small ones. The Sprint Cup Series has a special distinction in its point system, after 26 regular season races, the 12 drivers with the most points are given an arbitrary base point level. The teams then compete in the remaining races in what is known as the Chase for the Cup. This is different than most other NASCAR series where the winner is decided by total points accumulated.
All great and popular sports are multi-dimensional, appealing to a wide demographic. NASCAR is no exception, there's something for everyone. NASCAR races are fast, sweaty next generation racing science. Stock cars routinely reach speeds above 150 mph, with many averaging speeds around 180 mph, and some pushing 200 mph. This is dependant on the track size and its layout; naturally long stretches allow for a longer and faster 'groove.' At these speeds, drivers experience between two and three G's (up to three times the force of gravity) every turn. In addition to this, drivers need to endure the complication of driving a complex performance vehicle in temperatures up to 120 degrees. Operating a clutch in these conditions while inches from your competitor or the sidewall is profoundly different than racing your friends through town. Popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. says "[racing] ranks right up there as one of the toughest things to do." To make it, it takes "Nerve or guts."
The reliability and consistency of NASCAR fans is legendary. Stadiums for NASCAR venues can hold up to 170,000 spectators - this is much more than for any other sport in North America, and the televised Sprint Cup Series races gather more than 10 million viewers per race. There is also more than $4 million dollars in prize money per race for the winner; the average annual winnings for the top 15 teams is $12 million.
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