What Is ‘Drafting’ In NASCAR?

What Is ‘Drafting’ In NASCAR?

As we prepare for another season of the NASCAR Cup Series, let’s step into the lab to talk about one of the fundamentals of racing: drafting.

But since we’re not all a bunch of Einsteins, before we jump into drafting, it’s important to first understand the concept of drag. Drag refers to the force acting in opposition to a moving object. Consider throwing a ball in the air. It runs into countless air particles in its path, which slows it down. This drag force and gravity determine where the bullet’s journey will end. In racing, the moving object is obviously the car, and it will encounter drag as it travels around the track. For this reason, production car manufacturers have evolved their designs to incorporate improved aerodynamics in an effort to reduce drag and ultimately make cars faster.

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Although technological engineering feats like NASCAR’s Next Gen car continue to develop, drag will never be completely eliminated – it’s science – because a moving object, no matter how small, has mass. and, due to its mass, it will always redirect air as it moves through it. In stock car racing, this produces what is known as the wake effect, because as a car zooms down a track, it punctures the air, redirecting it out and around the sides of the track. car. The resulting low pressure air directly behind the car creates a vacuum that pulls the rear car forward.

Drawing of Nascar cars

Photo: Getty Images

How does writing work?

Having laid the groundwork for our new knowledge-soaked racing brains, design can therefore be understood as the aerodynamic technique where a car closely aligns its nose just inches from the lead car’s bumper. This uses the lead car’s wake to effectively attenuate drag, as the air directly behind the lead car’s bumper will subsequently have less resistance. By riding in this empty pocket, a racer can save fuel, reduce stress on the car, make fewer pit stops and hopefully increase their chances of success. Additionally, the design allows the two cars to travel faster together than they normally would independently of each other.

The story continues

Though clunky and over the top like only a Will Ferrell movie can be, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” showed just how crucial pilot teamwork is when attempting a draft. For starters, the front car will still bear the brunt of the drag force, increasing the likelihood of greater engine fatigue. However, the trailing car can use its momentum to strategically push the lead car forward, but this requires direct, clear communication between the drivers and some skillfully applied finesse behind the wheel. Otherwise, a hard hit can cause the lead car’s tires to momentarily lose traction, leaving the driver vulnerable to loss of control and spinning. If a driver intentionally uses this tactic to pass another driver, it’s called a bump-and-run. Even when executed correctly, it’s a risky maneuver that can be dangerous for all parties involved and often ignites simmering tension into full slugfests.

Is it legal in NASCAR?

The normal pattern with two cars stacked very tightly together is allowed in the various NASCAR tiers, but the tandem pattern is not allowed. The crucial difference is that by drawing in tandem, the two cars actually come into contact with each other: the nose of the second car touches the bumper of the first car. When the controversial tactic was deployed in 2013 at Daytona, Kyle Larson’s car was tossed into the air and its distant wreckage injured dozens of event attendees. As a result, NASCAR decided to ban tandem drafting in 2014.

Bubba Wallace’s car leading a nascar race

When was the design first used?

As with most things he’s done, NASCAR legend Junior Johnson was well ahead of the curve. As the story goes, the bootlegger hero turned Cup Series driver had no idea why his 1959 Chevy was drastically slower than rival Pontiacs during a practice at Daytona. During the actual race, he got the idea to move in behind them, and that’s when he noticed his car’s revs weren’t revving as high as they had been. He stayed behind the Pontiacs for the duration of the race, and at the end of the event, when the other cars failed, Johnson was to win the checkered flag.

In the last years of his life, Johnson, who not only invented the tactic but also became the first to win with it in the second Dayton 500 in 1960, called copywriting a dying art.

“I don’t think a lot of these guys are really good in the draft,” Johnson said while watching a NASCAR race at Indianapolis in 2008, according to ESPN. “There is a lot of talent.”

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