Top Ten NASCAR Tracks

Below is a compilation of a list of the top ten tracks in NASCAR with brief commentary.

1. Darlington Raceway- Not only is it the original Super Speedway of stock car racing, but Darlington Raceway defines what the sport of NASCAR once was and where it originated. At one time, the Southern 500 was the most esteemed race on the Winston Cup tour. As time progressed and the sport’s popularity cultivated, NASCAR made room on the schedule for other facilities located outside of the Southeast. In 2004, NASCAR realigned it’s schedule, which meant that Darlington would no longer host the traditional Labor Day event, a tradition that had been long-standing since 1950. In 2005, Darlington was stripped of one of its two dates on the Nextel Cup schedule. The track’s lone race was The Dodge Charger 500 and was held on Mother’s Day weekend. Despite losing one of it’s date, the track nicknamed ‘The Lady In Black’ and ‘the track to tough to tame’ was a sellout and considered one of the most exciting races of the 2005 season. In fact, some of the best finishes have taken place at this old venue. Remember in 2003, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch banging on each other all the way to the checkered flag?

1.366 mile egg-shaped oval
successful drives – David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, and Jeff Gordon

2. Bristol Motor Speedway- Most fans would regard Bristol as the #1 track in NASCAR as it is referred to as Thunder Valley. It’s considered the fastest half-mile track in the world. The track’s 36 degrees banking in the turns are the steepest of any track on the Nextel Cup schedule. The fall night race at Bristol is the most coveted ticket on the tour. If you intend on heading to east Tennessee in late August, plan on purchasing a ticket from a scalper.

0.533 mile short track
successful drivers- Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and Rusty Wallace

3. Daytona International Speedway- This track hosts what is considered the Super Bowl of stock car racing, which also kicks off the season. Winning the Daytona 500 is arguably the most superlative achievement in NASCAR with exception to winning the Nextel Cup Championship. After a driver wins ‘The Great American Race’, the winning car is inducted into the Daytona U.S.A. museum for an entire year to be showcased.

2.5 mile super speedway (a.k.a restrictor plate track)
successful drivers- Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, and Dale Jarrett

4. Richmond International Raceway- The once half-mile facility was transformed into 0.75 mile oval in 1988. It’s now considered a short-track and speedway all wrapped up in one. This track has the feel of a speedway, but with all of the beating and banging going on during the 400-mile events, there’s no mistaking the presence of the Saturday night short tack atmosphere.

0.75 mile short track
successful drivers- Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, and Tony Stewart

5. Talladega Super Speedway- Being the longest track in auto racing, it’s no wonder that NASCAR mandated the use of restrictor plates at this facility in order to vastly slow down the speeds. In 1987, Bill Elliott turned a lap of 212.809 mph, which is a record that will perhaps never be broken. Nearly twenty years later, it’s believed that without restrictor plates, speeds could likely reach somewhere near 230 mph. While many drivers utter their aversion towards restrictor plate racing, it generates excitement for spectators.

2.66 mile super speedway
successful drivers- Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr

6. Atlanta Motor Speedway- Few tracks have produced photo finishes in recent years, but Atlanta Motor Speedway has produced three in the last six years. In 2000 (Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte), 2001 (Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon), and 2005 (Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson), the margin of victory was 0.28 seconds or less. While at times during long green flag runs, the field may get spread out, you can almost count on a rousing finish.

1.54 mile speedway
successful drivers- Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Bobby Labonte

7. Dover International Speedway- I am one of the select few who thoroughly enjoy races held at the Monster Mile. It’s considered to be an expanded version of Bristol as it is the only other facility in NASCAR in which the surface is primarily concrete instead of asphalt. The track is also noted as the fastest half-mile in the United States.

1 mile intermediate speedway
successful drivers- Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin,

8. Martinsville Speedway- It’s the shortest and slowest oval track on the Nextel Cup schedule, yet it defines what short track racing is all about. Though Martinsville isn’t as highly touted as Bristol and Richmond mainly because of the slower speeds and the fact that it doesn’t host a night race, the racing can be just as exciting. Like the track itself, the driver’s tempers are shorter at Martinsville.

0.526 mile paper-clip short-track
successful drivers- Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Harry Gant

9. Lowe’s Motor Speedway- The track located in Concord, North Carolina just outside of Charlotte is considered a backyard to many drivers and teams considering that most teams’ headquarters are located in nearby towns. Lowe’s Motor Speedway plays host to the longest race of the year (Coca Cola 600) and one of the shortest races of the year (Nextel Cup All-Star) all in a two-weekend span. In 1992, Lowe’s Motor Speedway became the first contemporary super speedway to host night racing.

1.5 mile intermediate speedway
successful drivers- David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson

10. Indianapolis Motor Speedway- Even though the Brickyard was originally built in 1909, the NASCAR circuit didn’t visit the historical venue until 1994 when Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400. Even though the Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t generally engender the most exhilarating races, the Brickyard 400 trophy is among the most coveted.

2.5 mile speedway
successful drivers- Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Ricky Rudd

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