NASCAR Fast Facts

(CNN) — Here’s some background information about NASCAR, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.

Facts: It is the main governing body for stock car racing in the United States.

NASCAR is the creation of William H.G. (Bill) France, a stock car driver and gas station owner.

Stock cars are large, late model sedans that have been built especially for racing.

The stock car’s large engine allows it to reach speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour.

Most stock car races are held on oval asphalt tracks. The distance of race tracks can vary from 1/8 of a mile to 2 3/5 of a mile.

NASCAR runs three national series: the Sprint Cup Series, the top series, the XFINITY Series, the second series, and the Camping World Truck Series, which is for racing trucks only.

There are 36 races on the Sprint Cup schedule: twenty-six in the regular season and 10 post-season.

Restrictor plates, which slow cars down, are used at Talladega and Daytona International Speedways, because of the high banks found at both tracks. They were used for the first time in 1971.

NASCAR has varying colored flags, with different meanings, to direct drivers: – Green: Signals the beginning of the race and any restarts. – Yellow : Signals an accident or debris caused by contact or mechanical failure, or weather-related issues. The track is not clear. Slow down and hold your position behind the pace car. – Red: Cars must go to a designated location and stop immediately due to a safety issue. – White: There is one lap remaining in the race. – Black and White Checkered: The race is over!

Some of the top races in the Cup Series include the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, Bojangles’ Southern 500, and the 400 at the Brickyard.

Statistics: Richard Petty has the most career wins of any racer, with 200 wins. He is known as the “King” of stock-car racing.

Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. are tied for the most Cup championships, with seven each.

Jimmie Johnson is the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to win five consecutive championships (2006-2010). He won in 2013, so his total is now six.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 76 Cup Series wins and is the all-time race winner at Daytona International Speedway, with 34 wins.

Earnhardt died in an accident on the last lap of the Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001. There has not been a death in NASCAR’s top series since then.

NASCAR History : Pre-1947 – Early stock car races are held on local beaches and streets.

December 1947 – NASCAR is formed by amateur stock car driver and gas station owner William H.G. (Bill) France Sr. from Daytona Beach, Florida.

February 15, 1948 – The first NASCAR sanctioned race is held on Daytona’s beach course. Red Byron, from Atlanta, wins the event.

February 21, 1948 – NASCAR is incorporated.

1950 – The Darlington Raceway opens in Darlington, South Carolina, and hosts the Southern 500, the first NASCAR race run on a paved road.

1959 – The Daytona 500 takes place on the newly opened Daytona International Speedway.

1961 – ABC televises the Firecracker 250 from Daytona Beach.

January 10, 1972 – Bill France Sr, passes the leadership of NASCAR to his son Bill France Jr.

1979 – The Daytona 500 becomes the first 500-mile race to be telecast live in its entirety.

May 14, 1994 – Bill France Jr. announces the creation of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, then called the NASCAR SuperTruck Series.

February 18, 2001 – Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt dies in an accident on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

September 2003 – Brian Z. France, son of Bill France Jr., is named NASCAR’s Chairman of the Board and CEO.

2004 – Nextel becomes the new Cup Series sponsor, replacing R.J. Reynolds’ Winston brand after 33 years.

2004 – NASCAR introduces a new system for deciding a champion. After a 26 race regular season, the top drivers compete for the championship. The driver who has the most points at the end of the final 10 races is the Cup Series champion.

2007 – It is announced that the premier series’ name will be changed from the Nextel Cup Series to the Sprint Cup Series and that Nationwide Insurance will replace Anheuser Busch as the main sponsor of NASCAR’s number two series.

December 2007 – It is announced that Sears/Craftsman will end its sponsorship of the NASCAR Truck Series after 13 years.

October 24, 2008 – NASCAR announces that Camping World will replace Craftsman as the sponsor of the Truck Series. The renamed Camping World Truck Series begins in 2009.

2010 – Sprint becomes the new Cup Series sponsor, replacing Nextel.

March 4, 2013 – Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage announces that the National Rifle Association will sponsor the NASCAR Sprint Cup event in Texas on April 13. The race will be called the NRA 500 and will be run during prime time.

January 22, 2014 – NASCAR makes changes to its post-season process, where 16 teams instead of 12 will now compete in a 10 race elimination playoff. Four drivers will compete in the final championship race, where the first to finish wins the Sprint Cup.

September 3, 2014 – NASCAR announces that the Nationwide Series will have a new sponsor beginning January 1, 2015, Comcast’s XFINITY.

Brad Keselowski winner of the Auto Club 400. Photo by Scott Desfor
Brad Keselowski winner of the Auto Club 400. Photo by Scott Desfor

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