Anatomy of a Sprint Cup Car

Anatomy of a Sprint Cup Car

NASCAR 101: Anatomy of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Car

Tech Elements of a Sprint Cup Car

Tech Elements of a Sprint Cup Car

NASCAR 101: Technical Elements of a Sprint Cup Car

Aerodynamics and Drafting

Aerodynamics and Drafting

NASCAR 101: Aerodynamics and Drafting

Track Banking

Track Banking

NASCAR 101: Track Banking

Freezing the Field

Freezing the Field

NASCAR 101: Freezing the Field

Electronic Fuel Injection

Electronic Fuel Injection

NASCAR 101: Electronic Fuel Injection

HANS Device

HANS Device

NASCAR 101: HANS Device

Sunoco Green E15

Sunoco Green E15

NASCAR 101: Sunoco Green E15

Inside the Cockpit

Inside the Cockpit

NASCAR 101: Inside the Cockpit

Anatomy of a Pit Stop

Anatomy of a Pit Stop

NASCAR 101: Anatomy of a Pit Stop

Race Tire Vs Street Tire

Race Tire Vs Street Tire

Nascar 101: Race Tire Vs Street Tire

Racing Flags

Racing Flags

NASCAR 101: Racing Flags

Safer Barrier

Safer Barrier

NASCAR 101: Safer Barrier

Tight Vs Loose

Tight Vs Loose

NASCAR 101: Tight Vs Loose



NASCAR 101: Transporter

Track Locations

Track Locations

NASCAR 101: Track Locations

Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing pit crew services Tony Stewart's car during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev.

Nascar 101: Glossary

Words,phrases,lingo, or terms used in Racing

Terms and Phrases commonly used in Racing. See a Problem or think we need to add a word or Phrase, leave us a comment below.

word/phrase Definition 
200-MPH Tape “Racer’s Tape.” Duct tape, so strong it will hold a banged-up race car together long enough to finish a race.

When following another vehicle closely, the airflow off the lead vehicle does not travel across the following one(s) in a normal manner. Therefore, downforce on the front of the trailing vehicle(s) is decreased and it does not turn in the corners as well, resulting in an “aero push.” This condition is more apparent on the exit of the turns.


A number that is a coefficient of several factors that indicates how well a race vehicle will travel through the air and how much resistance it offers. Crewmen work to get the best “drag horsepower” rating they can, determining how much horsepower it will take to move a vehicle through the air at a certain mile-per-hour rate. At faster speedways teams strive to get the lowest drag number possible for higher straightaway speeds.


A strip that hangs under the front grill, very close to the ground. It helps provide downforce at the front of the car.


With the advent of radial tires with stiffer sidewalls, changing air pressure in the tires is used as another setup tool that is akin to adjusting spring rates in the vehicle’s suspension. An increase in air pressure raises the “spring rate” in the tire itself and changes the vehicle’s handling characteristics. If his race vehicle was “tight” coming off a corner, a driver might request a slight air pressure increase in the right rear tire to “loosen it up.”

Apron The paved portion of a race track that separates the racing surface from the (usually unpaved) infield.
BACK MARKER A car running off the pace near the rear of the field.
BALANCE When a car doesn’t tend to oversteer or understeer, but goes around the racetrack as if its on rails, it’s said to be in balance. 
BANKING  The sloping of a racetrack, particularly at a curve or a corner, from the apron to the outside wall. Degree of banking refers to the height of a racetrack’s slope at the outside edge.
Bear Grease  Slang term used to describe any patching material used to fill cracks and holes or smooth bumps on a track’s surface
Big One, the

The name for the giant wreck at Daytona and Talladega where restrictor plates are used. The wreck usually takes out a third to a quarter of the field. Very bad for the drivers since they spin and tumble for quite a ways while they are going 200 mph.

Binders Brakes

(1.) “Round of bite” describes the turning or adjusting of a car’s jacking screws found at each wheel. “Weight jacking” distributes the car’s weight at each wheel.

(2.) Adhesion of a tire to the track surface. See “Slick.”

Blend Line

Line painted on the track near the apron and extending from the pit road exit into the first turn. When leaving the pits a driver must stay below it so he or she can safely “blend” back into traffic.

Blowed (Motor) 

Major league engine failure, for instance when a connecting rod goes through the engine block producing a lot of smoke and steam. “We blowed the motor.”

Blow Away (Blow Off) To defeat, pass or win. “I’m gonna blow that guy away.”
Boogity, Boogity, Boogity

You will only see and hear this when FOX is broadcasting races because it is something Darrell Waltrip made up. It is said when the green flag is waving and it means “Go like hell.”

Brain Fade A momentary lack of attention that leads to making a mistake during a race.

Camber addresses the angle at which a tire makes contact with the track surface. “Positive camber” indicates the angle of the tire is tilted away from the vehicle’s centerline while “negative camber” indicates the tire is tilted toward the centerline. A typical oval track setup would have positive camber in the left front and negative camber in the right front to help the vehicle make left-hand turns.

CAMSHAFT A rotating shaft within the engine that opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves in the engine.
CHASSIS  The combination of a car’s floorboard, interior and roll cage. 

The up-and-down movement caused when a car travels around corners at high speeds. The side of the car facing the turn becomes lighter while the extra weight goes toward the outside of the turn.

Chute  A race track straightaway, either on an oval or a road course. 

A formula or “recipe” of rubber composing a particular tire. Different tracks require different tire compounds. “Left-side” tires are considerably softer than “right-side” tires and it’s against the rules to run left sides on the right.

CONTACT PATCH The part of the tire that’s actually touching the road.
Crew Chief

Team leader. Depending on the team, duties include everything form making assignments in the shop, to calling the shots in the pits, to handling airline and motel reservations.

DIRTY AIR The air used and discarded by the lead car. 

The air pressure traveling over the surfaces of a race vehicle creates “downforce” or weight on that area. In order to increase corner speeds teams strive to create downforce that increases tire grip. The tradeoff for increased corner speeds derived from greater downforce is increased drag that slows straightaway speeds.


The aerodynamic effect that allows two or more cars traveling nose-to-tail to run faster than a single car. When one car follows closely, the one in front cuts through the air, providing less resistance for the car in back.


The practice of two or more cars, while racing, to run nose-to-tail, almost touching. The lead car, by displacing the air in front of it, creates a vacuum between its rear end and the nose of the following car, actually pulling the second car along with it.


The resistance a car experiences when passing through air at high speeds. A resisting force exerted on a car parallel to its air stream and opposite in direction to its motion.


shortened form of “dynamometer,” a machine used to measure an engine’s horsepower and test and monitor its overall performance. 


“Except In Rare Instance,” a handy little term describing NASCAR’s ability to enforce its decisions when there may not be a specific rule or regulation to cover such a decision.

ENGINE BLOCK An iron casting from the manufacturer that envelopes the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons.

Cars in superspeedway races are required to run tires with both inner tubes and “inner liners,” which are actually small tires inside the standard tires. When the inner liner loses air pressure and that pressure becomes the same as that within the outer tire, the tire is said to have equalized and a vibration is created. 


On a road course, a series of acute left, and right-hand turns, one turn immediately following another.


A person who specializes in creating the sheet metal body of a stock car. Most teams employ two or more.



A term designating the “Big Three” auto manufacturers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The “factory days” refer to periods in the 1950s and ’60s when the manufacturers actively and openly provided sponsorship money and technical support to some race teams. 

Flat-Out Racing a car as fast as possible under given conditions.
FIREWALL  A solid metal plate that separates the engine compartment from the driver’s compartment of a race car.
FRONT CLIP The front-most part of the race car, starting with the firewall.

A holding tank for a race car’s supply of gasoline. Consists of a metal box that contains a flexible, tear-resistant bladder and foam baffling. A product of aerospace technology, it’s designed to eliminate or minimize fuel spillage.


A car in which the steering components (box, etc.) are located ahead of the front axle.

Garage Area of a race track where cars are housed during an event; work area for car preparation while at a race track.
Gofer  Runs errands, clean up shop and takes orders from crew chief. “Go fer this and go fer that.”

Slang term for the best route around a racetrack; the most efficient or quickest way around the track for a particular driver. The “high groove” takes a car closer to the outside wall for most of a lap, while the “Low groove” takes a car closer to the apron than the outside wall. Road racers use the term “line.” Drivers search for a fast groove, and that has been known to change depending on track and weather conditions. 


Slang term for the last official practice session held before an event. Usually takes place the day before the race and after all qualifying and support races have been staged.


Generally, a race car’s performance while racing, qualifying or practicing. How a car “Handles” is determined by its tires, suspension geometry, aerodynamics and other factors. 

Hand Grenaded  Hand Grenaded See Blowed

A driver or team owner who does not have financial backing from a major sponsor and must make do with second-hand equipment such as parts and tires. The term, like the breed, is becoming rarer every year. 

Jack The Bear When someone says his car is running like “Jack The Bear,” it’s moving at optimum efficiency. See “flat-out.”

The time-distance between two cars. Referred to roughly in car lengths, or precisely in seconds 

LAPPED TRAFFIC Cars that have completed at least one full lap less than the race leader.
Line  See “groove.”

(Also referred to as “free” or “oversteer.”) A condition created when the back end of the vehicle wants to overtake the front end when it is either entering or exiting a turn. In qualifying mode teams walk a fine line creating a setup that “frees the vehicle up” as much as possible without causing the driver to lose control. 

Lucky Dog 

An unfortunate result of not racing back to the caution flag. Before 2003, cars would continue to race back to starting line when a caution came out. Now the field is frozen during a caution, which means everyone slows down and the safety crews can get out much faster. The Lucky Dog is the first car one lap down. Now, that car is allowed to restart in front of the race leader as the last car on the lead lap, making him one lucky dog. The only person who likes this new rule is the lucky dog himself and only when he is the lucky dog. 


Short for “magnetic particle inspection.” A procedure for checking all ferrous (steel) parts – suspension pieces, connecting rods, cylinder heads, etc. – for cracks and other defect utilizing a solution of metal particles and fluorescent dye and a black light. Surface cracks will appear as red lines.


(Also referred to as “loose stuff.”) Bits of rubber that have been shaved off tires and dirt and gravel blown to the outside of a corner by the wind created by passing vehicles comprise the “marbles” that are often blamed by drivers for causing them to lose control.

NEUTRAL A term drivers use when referring to how their car is handling. When a car is neither loose nor pushing (tight).

Basically, the procedure for checking the cubic-inch displacement of an engine. The term comes from the manufacturer of the particular gauge used. 

Penalty Box 

Derived from ice hockey. NASCAR’s way of penalizing drivers for infractions by holding them in the pits or behind the wall for a specified time during a race. “He screwed up and they put him in the penalty box.”


The area where pit crews service the cars. Generally located along the front straightaway, but because of space limitations, some racetracks sport pit roads on the front and back straightaways. 


The area along pit road that is designated for a particular team’s use during pit stops. Each car stops in the team’s stall before being serviced.

Pits Area of a race track, off the racing surface, where a car stops for servicing.
POLE POSITION Slang term for the foremost position on the starting grid, awarded to the fastest qualifier. 
Post-Entry (PE)

A team or driver who submits an entry blank for a race after the deadline for submission has passed. A post-entry receives no Winston Cup points.


(Also referred to as “tight” or “understeer.”) “Push” is a condition that occurs when the front tires of a vehicle will not turn crisply in a corner. When this condition occurs, the driver must get out of the throttle until the front tires grip the race track again.


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.

Ragged Edge (running on the)

Driving a car to its extreme limits while either qualifying or racing. Going “over the ragged edge” can result in loss of control.


The section of a race car that begins at the base of the rear windshield and extends to the rear bumper. Contains the car’s fuel cell and rear suspension components.

Rear-Steer A car in which the steering components are located behind the front axle.
“Reasonable Suspicion”; “Substance”  Both refer to NASCAR’s drug-testing policy. Under it, if a NASCAR official is “reasonably suspicious” a driver, crew member or another official is abusing drugs, he or she may be required to undergo testing. “Substances” include cocaine, heroin, PCP and other illegal drugs, as well as alcohol and prescription drugs while participating in an event.

An aluminum plate that is placed between the base of the carburetor and the engine’s intake manifold with four holes drilled in it. The plate is designed to reduce the flow of air and fuel into the engine’s combustion chamber, thereby decreasing horsepower and speed.

“Right Combination”

Catchall phrase to describe why a car, team or driver has performed well or won a race. Included are engine horsepower, tire wear, correct weight distribution, performance of the driver on the track, the crew on pit stops and so on.


These flaps are sections at the rear of a race vehicle’s roof that are designed to activate, or flip up, if the air pressure flowing across them decreases. In the case of a vehicle turning backwards, the tendency for an uninterrupted flow of air is to create lift. The roof flaps are designed to disrupt that airflow in attempt to keep the vehicle on the ground.


These are the guys wo are running a full season of Cup racing for the first time. They all have a yellow stripe on their rear bumper so other drivers know to stay away from them. These guys all run for Rookie Of The Year and try to stay out of everyone’s way.


Slang term for a way of making chassis adjustments utilizing the race car’s springs. A wrench is inserted in a jack bolt attached to the springs, and is used to tighten or loosen the amount of play in the spring. This in turn can loosen or tighten the handling of a race car.

Sand bagger(ing)

Driver who allegedly fails to drive a car to its full potential in practice or qualifying, thus being able to provide a “surprise” for his or her competitors during a race.

“Scuff” A tire that has been used at least once and is saved for further racing. A lap or two is enough to “scuff” it in.
SETUP Slang term for the tuning and adjustments made to a race car’s suspension before and during a race.
SHORT TRACK Racetracks that are less than one mile in length.

Slang for the period that begins during the latter part of the current season, wherein some teams announce driver, crew and/or sponsor changes.


A track condition where, for a number of reasons, it’s hard for a car’s tires to adhere to the surface or get a good “bite”. A slick race track is not necessarily wet or slippery because of oil, water, etc.


A maneuver in which a car following the leader in a draft suddenly steers around it breaking the vacuum; this provides an extra burst of speed that allows the second car to take the lead. See “Drafting”.


(Also referred to as a “blade.”) The spoiler is a strip of aluminum that stretches across the width of a race vehicle’s rear decklid. It is designed to create downforce on the rear of the vehicle, thereby increasing traction. However, the tradeoff, again, is that more downforce equals more aerodynamic drag, so teams attempt, particularly on qualifying runs, to lay the spoiler at as low an angle as possible to “free up” their vehicles for more straightaway speed.


An individual or business establishment that financially supports a race driver, team, race or series of races in return for advertising and marketing benefits.


Stagger is a concept that has largely been eliminated with the use of radial tires. It refers to the difference in tire circumference between the left- and right-side tires on the vehicle. Typically, the left-side tires would be a smaller circumference than the right-side tires to “help” the vehicle make left-hand turns.

STICK Slang term used for tire traction.
STICKERS Slang term for new tires. The name is derived from the manufacturer’s stickers that are affixed to each new tire’s contact surface.
Stroking  Said of a driver who allegedly “lays back” in a race so as not to punish or wear out equipment before the end of an event.

A penalty, usually assessed for speeding on pit road at the appropriate speed and stopped for one full second in the team’s pit stall before returning to the track.


A racetrack of one mile or more in distance. Road courses are included. Racers refer to three types of oval tracks. Short tracks are under one mile, intermediate tracks are at least a mile but under two miles and superspeedways are two miles and longer.


Sometimes called an “antiroll bar.” Bar used to resist or counteract the rolling force of the car body through the turns.


A device used to check the body shape and size to ensure compliance with the rules. The template closely resembles the shape of the factory version of the car.


Also known as “understeer.” A car is said to be tight if the front wheels lose traction before the rear wheels do. A tight race car doesn’t seem able to steer sharply enough through the turns. Instead, the front end continues through the wall.


Looking at the car from the front, the amount the tires are turned in or out. If you imagine your feet to be the two front tires of a race car, standing with your toes together would represent toe-in. Standing with your heels together would represent toe-out.


(Also referred to as a “Panhard bar.”) This bar locates the vehicle’s rear end housing from left-to-right under it. In calibrating the vehicle’s “suspension geometry,” raising or lowering the track bar changes the rear roll center and determines how well it will travel through the corners. During races, this adjustment is done through the rear window using an extended ratchet. Typically, lowering the track bar will “tighten” the vehicle and raising the track bar will “loosen” it.

TRAILING ARM  A rear suspension piece holding the rear axle firmly fore and aft yet allowing it to travel up and down.

A racetrack that has a “hump” or “fifth turn” in addition to the standard four corners. Not to be confused with a triangle-shaped speedway, which only has three distinct corners.

TURBULANCE Air that trails behind a race car and disrupts the flow of air to the cars behind it.

(Also referred to as “front air dam.”) This is the panel that extends below the vehicle’s front bumper. The relation of the bottom of the valance, or its ground clearance, affects the amount of front downforce the vehicle creates. Lowering the valance creates more front downforce.

VICTORY LANE Sometimes called the “winner’s circle.” The spot on each racetrack’s infield where the race winner parks for the celebration.

Refers to the relationship from corner-to-corner of the weight of the race vehicle. Increasing the weight on any corner of the vehicle affects the weight of the other three corners in direct proportion. Weight adjustments are made by turning “weight jacking screws” mounted on each corner with a ratchet. A typical adjustment for a “loose” car would be to increase the weight of the left rear corner of the vehicle, which decreases the weight of the left front and right rear corners and increases the weight of the right front. A typical adjustment for a “tight” vehicle would be to increase the weight of the right rear corner, which decreases the weight of the right front and left rear and increases the weight of the left front.

WEIGHT JACKING The practice of shifting a car’s weight to favor certain wheels.

A structure used by race teams to determine the aerodynamic efficiency of their vehicles, consisting of a platform on which the vehicle is fixed and a giant fan to create wind currents. Telemetry devices determine the airflow over the vehicle and its coefficient of drag and downforce.

Wrench Slang for racing mechanic.

*words that are in all CAPITAL letters are officially defined by Nascar

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