In most sports, the playing field remains the same from game to game. While some teams benefit from home-court advantage – such as the Golden State Warriors when they play at Oracle Arena – the court is still the same size as when they play in any other gymnasium across the country.
In auto racing, however, each track is unique in its own right. Even tracks that are the same length have certain features that make them different to drive. When looking at 1.5-mile layouts for example, each track has a different preferred line that is typically the fastest way around the track.
This holds true at tracks like Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway, but here at Homestead-Miami Speedway we have multiple grooves where drivers can find speed. That is because of the variable 18-20 degree banking that is found in our turns, allowing for drivers to ride along the wall just as fast as those who are on the bottom of the track taking the shortest line around the oval.
To see just how different racetracks can be, take a look at NASCAR’s current slate on the schedule. Last weekend, both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series visited Pocono Raceway, and this week, the Truck series ran at Eldora Speedway on Thursday while the Cup series will be at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.
When you look at Pocono Raceway, the first thing that stands out is that there are only three turns. Appropriately dubbed “The Tricky Triangle,” Pocono is one of the most difficult tracks for drivers to master. Each of the three turns is very different and requires drivers to use a different amount of brake and throttle in each part of the track.
If you watched the truck race on Thursday night, you’d immediately notice why it’s called the Eldora Dirt Derby. Eldora is the only dirt track on the schedule for any of NASCAR’s three national series. It’s neat to watch the trucks race on dirt because it lends much less grip than an asphalt track, leading to the trucks sliding all over the oval and having much less control than normal.
In a way, Eldora takes a lot of drivers back to their roots when they raced on dirt before NASCAR. Tony Stewart is the owner of the track and is one of the most accomplished dirt racers ever, while up and comers Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson have each notched wins at the Dirt Derby.
When Cup Series drivers take the green flag at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, it will be the last time they do so at a traditional road course during the 2019 season. NASCAR’s premier series visits two true road courses as well as the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the year and they are typically the most difficult tracks for drivers to maneuver. With all of the twists and turns, drivers will shift gears and turn the wheel more on Sunday than in any other race this season, causing them to become more fatigued as the race goes on.
The 2.45-mile track comes with plenty of challenges beyond being one of the more physically grueling tracks to drive around. Watkins Glen is the only track where drivers must pit on the right side due to the track layout. This proves difficult for the driver, but perhaps even more so for the pit crew who will be going through their stops in reverse of what they are accustomed to.
Between Pocono, Eldora and Watkins Glen, this stretch of the NASCAR
season really showcases the uniqueness of the tracks on the schedule. From the time the season starts at Daytona International Speedway to when it culminates with Ford Championship Weekend here in South Florida, the series are at a different track every week. So as you tune in for the upcoming playoffs, pay attention to the details of each track because whether it’s Homestead-Miami Speedway or Watkins Glen, each track has something special and unique to offer to both fans and drivers.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Sunday, August 4 at 3:00 PM (ET)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GoBowling at the Glen at Watkins Glen International
Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Saturday, August 3 at 3:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Xfinity Series Zippo 200 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International
Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series raced at Eldora Speedway on Thursday night and will return to action on Saturday, August 10 at Michigan International Speedway.
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Aug. 2 Fast Lane Friday
Aug. 10-11 National Auto Sport Association
Aug. 16 Fast Lane Friday
Aug. 17 Give Back at the Track
Aug. 18 Florida Trackdays
2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Nov. 15 - Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race
Nov. 16 - Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race
Nov. 17 - Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Series Championship Race
2020 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Mar. 20 - NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race
Mar. 21 - NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
Mar. 22 - NASCAR Cup Series Race