Cleat Geeks

Pole Position Prophecies: The How & What Is Drafting

If you’ve ever watched a NASCAR race on television then the odds are that phrase “drafting” in one form or another has been talked about by the announcers. But what exactly is Drafting, and how important is it to the race? Well, like most things in NASCAR, it’s not quite as simple as it appears.

 

The basic Idea behind drafting has everything to do with aerodynamics. Essentially, Drafting is a technique where two or more vehicles align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag by exploiting the lead vehicle’s slipstream. Drag is is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object and the slipstream is a region behind a moving object in which a wake of fluid (typically air or water) is moving at velocities comparable to the moving object.

 

To put it in simpler terms when a driver gets close enough to the car in front of it, it reduces the aerodynamic resistance on the front of the trailing car allowing the second car to pull closer. This can also help the lead car by pushing high-pressure air forward so less fast-moving air hits the lead car’s spoiler as the second car nears the first.

 

There are a number of different types of drafting techniques that drivers can use. One of the more common techniques is the “sling shot” pass. the “sling shot” pass happens when a trailing car uses the lead car’s wake to pull up with maximum momentum at the end of a straightaway, enters a turn high, and turns down across the lead car’s wake allowing the the trailing car to carry extra speed and pass on the inside of the leader.

 

The other common draft used by NASCAR drivers is the bump draft. Bump drafting begins as normal drafting, but the following car pulls up behind the lead car and bumps into the rear of it, pushing the lead car ahead, to maintain momentum. Bump drafting can get tricky however, If done roughly or in the wrong position it can destabilize the lead car causing either a wreck or for the lead car to spin out.

 

Drafting is a bigger part of racing then most people realize. Everything from the type of track being raced on (drafting will play a bigger part at Talledega and Daytona then at Watkins Glenn and Sanoma) to your position on the track changes the strategy you choose to use. But with the information above, now you can have a better understanding and appreciation of what goes into proper drafting.

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