By Rich Foust
As promised in my last post, The Unique Beauty of NASCAR, this is the first of a three-part series that I will take a closer look at the similarities and differences in NASCAR’s top-three divisions – Camping World Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series‘ – and how they are at the same time, special in there own right, with their own unique attraction for fans.
Beginning with the Camping World Truck Series, there are four areas, I’ll use to highlight the similarities and differences between all three series’ – unique attraction for fans, technology of the race vehicles, equipment, and rules structure of the teams.
Unique attraction for fans
In my opinion NASCAR hit the mark with the Camping World Truck Series with drivers going for the checkered flag, beginning with the first lap. For drivers, it’s an all out dog fight on every lap to the end of the race, and they don’t leave anything on the table.
It’s fun to watch the back and forth competition from the green flag, through every lap and all the way to the checkered flag to find out who ultimately wins the race. All 36 trucks take the green flag and any one of them can win in the end. And for fans that means the race is guaranteed to be exciting. That’s not to say, the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series are not exciting, because they very much are – just in their own unique way.
Technology of the race vehicles
Aerodynamically speaking, the Trucks are like a billboard in comparison to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars. The Truck design punches a big hole in the air, allowing trucks to close the gap and get a run on the drivers in front and race hard for the entire race.
To see how the trucks are not as aerodynamic as the cars, look at the nose and windshield of the Nationwide or Sprint Cup cars – which are similar – in comparison to the trucks. Visually you can see, it is the angle difference that makes the trucks more like a billboard and so much harder to handle.
While the nose and windshield on the trucks are more vertical, the trucks are also taller than the cars in Nationwide and Cup, making it hard to get air to the rear spoiler. The truck height is 60 inches compared to Nationwide cars at 51 inches and Sprint Cup cars at 54 inches. As a result, the rear tires on the trucks have less grip on the track. The lack of grip makes it challenging for drivers to man handle these, heavier, horsepower, billboards around the track. But at the same time creates a more exciting race for fans to watch for the duration of the race.
The chassis and suspension under the trucks are very similar to Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars, but as stated earlier, it’s their body style that is different with the front of the truck body not as efficient with air as the car body in the other two series.
Also the weight of the truck is heavier than the cars in the other two series. Without driver and fuel, Nationwide cars are 3200 pounds and Sprint Cup G6 cars 3300 pounds, while the trucks are carrying 100 to 200 pounds more around the track at 3400 pounds without driver and fuel.
What’s interesting about that, is that the horsepower output of the trucks and Nationwide cars is about the same at 650-700hp unrestricted and 450hp restricted. So the trucks are carrying 200 more pounds than Nationwide cars with the same horsepower. In addition, to aerodynamics, it’s why the Nationwide cars can race faster on the track. And Sprint Cup cars are even faster, because they have an even higher power outlet of 850hp unrestricted. But at restrictor plate tracks, the Sprint Cup cars actually have a lower power outlet of 445 hp slowing them down at the superspeedways. This perfectly illustrates why faster cars do not always produce the best racing around the track.
Rules structure of the teams
The Camping World Truck Series races are typically shorter in comparison to the cars, leading drivers to race hard from the start because they have much less time to get the job done.
Also, trucks and Nationwide cars have fewer races than the Sprint Cup cars at 22 versus 36 for the season. This means they have more off-track time throughout the season, perhaps creating a situation where the drivers are more anxious to be back on the track, ready and refreshed to race hard.
The combination of shorter and fewer races, less aerodynmics, and more weight with lower horsepower, all give the Camping World Truck Series it’s own unique beauty and is what makes the truck races so thrilling to watch.
So race fans here we go into the 2013 season and I, for one, am very excited to get this bad boy fired up…the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series…is a beautiful thing!
Race Fans – Do you have questions about the tech talk in this blog? Or perhaps, you’ve always wondered about some of the more technical aspects of NASCAR? When you have a question, the best way to get an answer is to ASK. When you ask, Rich will answer your NASCAR Tech Talk questions via his weekly blog. There are three ways you can submit questions for Rich. 1. comment below, 2. email your questions to Rich Foust, or 3. hit Rich up on twitter @Foust39.