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Yet More NASCAR Jargon: A Glossary of Racing Terms

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If you’ve ever watched a race, live or on TV, or any sort of motorsport, you’ve likely heard some jargon or terms that are exclusive to that type of racing. NASCAR is full of them, and below, we’re going to go through some of the most common and notable NASCAR jargon!

Camber

Camber is a tire’s tilt. It is the amount of in or out tilt from a vertical position and is measured in degrees. Teams adjust the camber of a tire in their car setup prior to a race.

Downforce

One of the most important aspects of a race car, NASCAR or otherwise, is downforce. It’s the combination of aerodynamic and centrifugal forces that helps keep a race car planted to the ground. Downforce is great for handling, giving the car more grip, but too much can drastically reduce a car’s speed.

Drag

Defined as the resistance a car experiences when traveling through the air at high speeds.

Drafting

Drafting, as it is referred to in NASCAR, otherwise known as a slipstream in other motorsports like F1, is basically the practice of two or more cars, while racing, to run nose-to-tail. The lead car punches a hole through the air and creates a vacuum between its rear end and the nose, literally pulling the trailing car along. The draft is massive at tracks like Talladega, Daytona, and Atlanta, and when a car loses the draft, speeds can decrease dramatically.

Dirty Air

This is a NASCAR slang term describing the turbulent air currents produced by fast-moving cars, which makes passing incredibly difficult and negatively impacts a trailing car’s handling.

Groove

Another slang term used to describe a route around a track. The “high groove” describes the racing line at or near the wall, while the “low groove” describes the racing line near the bottom of the track. Drivers constantly look for the fastest racing line or “groove” to maximize lap time.

Loose

Commonly known in other motorsports as “oversteer,” a loose race car is exactly what it sounds like. When the rear end of the car steps out and fishtails, this is when a driver will likely report to their crew chief that they are loose. While being too loose can be detrimental, some drivers prefer a loose race car.

Tight

The opposite of loose and referred to in other series as “understeer,” a tight race car is also exactly what it sounds like. If the car’s front end loses grip before the rear does, then it is tight. A tight race car will often make it harder for the driver to steer through the corner.

Pole

Pole position is when a driver qualifies for the race in the first position and leads the field to green at the beginning of the race.

Quarter-Panel

The sheet metal on both sides of the car from the C-post to the rear bumper below the deck lid and above the wheel well.

Round (Wedge)

A round (or wedge) is a slang term for making an adjustment to the car’s chassis by utilizing the springs. Depending on the direction of the adjustment, this adjustment can loosen or tighten the car, hence the term.

SAFER Barrier

The SAFER barrier – The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier system – is a combination of a steel wall and foam with the intention of reducing the energy of impacts and crashes.

Short Pit

Short pitting is a strategy of pitting well before running out of fuel, putting on fresh tires with the intention to make up time on the front-runners, with the possibility of taking the lead once those lead cars need have to pit later on. Short pitting puts a car on an alternate pit cycle. It can be a huge gamble, with the need for cautions to fall at the right time for it to work out.

Slide Job

A move most commonly attempted in dirt racing but has at times found its way to NASCAR. It goes something like this. A car dives into the corner in the low lane and washes up in front of the car in the higher lane, taking the line away and completing the pass.

Slingshot

When the trailing car in a draft breaks the draft around it, breaking the vacuum; this can produce an extra burst of speed that allows the second car to take the lead. You might recognize this reference from a certain NASCAR movie… Slingshot ENGAGED!

Lucky Dog

A slang term you might hear on TV during a NASCAR broadcast. This is a phrase to describe the first driver one lap down who will receive a free pass during a caution to get back on the lead lap.

Stickers

You’ll often hear the word stickers thrown around during a NASCAR broadcast. You might be wondering what it means, and it’s pretty simple, really. Stickers are brand-new tires that literally have the sticker still on them. They are the freshest tires you can put on a race car.

Scuffs

This is another tire term. But rather than stickers being the freshest set of tires, scuffs are tires that are still fairly new but have had a few laps, which have scuffed up the surface of the tire.

Overtime

Overtime is basically extra racing. If a caution occurs near the end of the race before the leader takes the white flag, overtime will ensue. It is a two-lap shootout to the finish, with unlimited attempts.

Wave around

If a driver is a lap down but isn’t in position for the free pass, they can get their lap back using the wave around. This option becomes available to lapped cars if the leaders pit under caution. If leaders decline to pit, the wave around does not take effect. Even if given the wave around, drivers who are granted it cannot pit, so they are then at a tire and fuel disadvantage.

Marbles

Marbles are small pieces of tire debris that are out of the normal racing line(s). Small pieces of rubber like this can feel like driving on ice if a driver gets up into this debris, and can dirty up hot, sticky tires and often cause accidents.

So now you know a bunch of the terms used in NASCAR, often called jargon. Were there any that we missed or that you feel we should add? Let us know! Keep up with us on all our social media channels at The Daily Downforce, and continue to stay up-to-date with all things NASCAR!

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