What Are Short Tracks in NASCAR Racing? How Is Short Track Racing Different?

Published 04/28/2021, 1:00 PM EDT
Apr 10, 2021; Martinsville, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series drivers cross the start line during the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports


We have often heard that the NASCAR fraternity is heading to a short track for a race. But what is a short track?

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A short track is an oval track that is less than one mile in length. The majority of such tracks are 0.5 miles (0.8 km) or less. Drivers looking for a career in oval track racing mostly start their racing from short tracks, prior to climbing to arrangements that contend on bigger tracks. Because of their short length and quick activity, these tracks are regularly nicknamed “bullrings.” Proficient level NASCAR races on short tracks as a rule utilize a 500-lap or 400-lap distance.

Short tracks as a rule have lights installed and regularly have night races. The short ovals actually structure the foundation of NASCAR in the feeder arrangement. Three race tracks of this sort are scheduled in the Cup Series: Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond.

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Sep 19, 2020; Bristol, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) leads Alex Bowman (88) during the Nascar Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Short track races are very popular in NASCAR and the sport also plans to hold more races on these ovals tracks later on.

There are several tracks that have the potential for future Cup races. One is the Iowa Speedway, which was built in 2006. The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, which was used as a Cup Series track until 1984, in addition to the Memphis Motorsports Park, which had races of the Busch Series until the 2000s, are also serious contenders.

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Best racers on NASCAR short tracks

Like all sports, certain members of NASCAR specialize in certain aspects of the sport. As such, there are several NASCAR drivers that perform better on short tracks compared to their rivals.

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One such driver is Jeff Gordon. He cherished short-track racing and has 17 Short track wins. Kyle Busch, too, is a short track maestro, with 16 wins and 5,510 laps under his belt. He scored his last short-track win in the 2019 race at Bristol. He had a strong season a year ago with two top fives, four top 10s and 268 laps drove in the five races.

Ben Beshore, Busch’s new team boss for 2021, drove Harrison Burton to four Xfinity Series wins last season, including Martinsville.

The NASCAR legend and seven times Cup Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson was also fond of short-track racing. Out of his 83 career race wins, 14 came at the various NASCAR short track races.

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Martin Truex Jr. has four short-track victories and 1,072 laps drove in the last 10 races. A year ago, Truex posted two top-fives. This includes a victory in June at Martinsville subsequent to fighting back from a pit lane punishment.

What do you think about short tracks? And which of the younger NASCAR drivers do you think have potential to become short track maestros? Let us know!

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Abhay Aggarwal

421 articles

Abhay Aggarwal is sports analyst at EssentiallySports. Having joined ES in early 2020, he has over 300 NASCAR, Formula 1, and Tennis articles to his name. Abhay has been an avid motorsports fan for over a decade, and he even attended the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

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