At first look, most sports are hard to understand, and NASCAR is a doozy to follow. While NASCAR races have a definite end, casual viewers of the sport will not know whether it is the total number of laps. miles, or minutes that signal the end of the race. On top of that, not every lap is an active race lap, so some circuits are completed but don’t count toward the total.
Fortunately, once you are a spectator of a race or two, you will quickly understand what the names and numbers of the races mean and how they give you the answers you are looking for. In general, races are announced by the location and mile, like the Daytona 500 (500-mile race at Daytona Speedway, eh!), but that says nothing about the number of laps a driver will drive. To understand how many miles a NASCAR driver will do in a single race, read below.
What Is the Total Lap Number NASCAR Racers Race?
Just like in any race, whether the quarter mile around the track or a circuit in Mario Kart, one lap is equivalent to a single complete rotation of the track. The number of laps needed per race depends on the total number of miles that make up the race goal distance as well as the length of the track. A short track with a longer mile goal distance, like tracks in Austin, will have hundreds more laps than a long track with a moderate mileage goal.
On average, NASCAR drivers complete 150 to 500 laps around the track to achieve the race goal but will make several other laps such as pace laps and times of caution when the rotations are not counted mileage-wise. At the Charlotte motor speedway, a 600-mile race ended up stretching to 619.5 miles because of numerous crashes near the 400-mile point. A pit stop and caution lap at a speed of 45 to 55 mph are much different than an active lap at nearly 200 mph.
Does Every NASCAR Race End with the Same Number of Track Circuits?
NASCAR races are determined by a total mile goal and are completed when that number has been driven. Depending on the mile goal of the race and the total length of the track, a racer will make anywhere from 45 to 500 laps around the track. A racing series will have several races on each track featured in the event, and usually, the goal is to have the last lap number correspond with the mile goal.
A race like the Martinsville Speedway, which is a half-mile short track, takes about 500 laps to reach the race goal, whereas an intermediate track like the Atlanta motor speedway can be completed in around 330 laps. The longer tracks like the Daytona international speedway and the Charlotte motor speedway can be completed in less than 200 laps with an average race time of 3 to 4 hours.
Races with a schedule during seasons where rain and weather are bad can take a longer time and more laps to complete than other races. Due to accidents, caution laps, and other race variables, no two races will likely end with some exact number of circuits, even if they were supposed to.
Motorways and Laps
The number of laps a driver needs to complete depends on the length of the track, and for the most part, the distance varies considerably. Intermediate tracks like Phoenix Raceway are around 1.5 miles which equals about 330 laps for a 500-mile race distance. The average time to complete a race on these racing speedways is between 3 to 4 hours, depending on pit stops and the weather during that racing season schedule.
The longest mileage race occurred at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the 600-mile Charlotte Race ended up being 619.5 miles of actual race distance. There are so many types of races, like 400-mile races, 500-lap races, and even dirt course races. The most popular race is the Daytona 500, which is raced at the Daytona International Speedway.
There is also a playoff racing schedule and a championship race with its own lap requirements and total distances. Below are some common examples of race laps and distances on America’s most popular speedways.
|Motorway||Lap Distance||Average Number of Laps per Race|
|Los Angeles Coliseum||.25 miles||Exhibition Event|
|Martinsville Speedway||.5 miles||500 laps|
|Kentucky Speedway||1.5 miles||333 laps|
|Talladega Superspeedway||2.6 mile||188 laps|
|Circuit of the Americas||3.46 miles||68 laps|
|Road America||4 miles||45 laps|
Short track races are some of the most exciting during a racing season, and the faster speeds on these predictable tracks can lead to laps lasting only seconds. There are 9 short tracks that are commonly used for major racing events like the Busch Light Clash. Short tracks like the Bristol Motor Speedway are less than 1 mile long and offer faster, more exciting, and shorter races that fans really like and demonstrate the abilities of drivers like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
For races that offer a combination of high lap counts and longer straightaways for faster speeds, intermediate speedways from Austin to Tennessee are always packed with fans. These courses are regular or irregular oval tracks that are around 1.5 miles in length. These races are good for all-around NASCAR drivers and are both exciting and good exhibitions of speed. The Atlanta Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway are common intermediate tracks that host multiple races during racing seasons.
As popular as short track races and gaining more fans as the number of venues increase, these races add turns to otherwise straightforward races. The races are not on actual roads used by the public but on tracks used for other types of auto races and add excitement and test drivers’ versatility.
The most famous race courses with road tracks are Sonoma Raceway, Road America, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and Circuit of the Americas. Road races can have the longest distances and the lowest lap count or be some of the shortest races depending on the type of race and track distance.
The longest oval tracks used by NASCAR drivers host the superspeedway races. These tracks are more than 1.5 miles in length, and drivers need to plan pit stops and race strategies carefully to complete the longer race tracks. Superspeedway events are always exciting races, and some of the most watched NASCAR racing experiences take place on tracks like the Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway, and the most popular annual race at the Daytona international speedway, the Daytona 500.
Are Laps Always the Same Distance?
Laps are based on completing one circuit around the track, and one most course, that distance is fixed. During a race event, the lap distance will not change, although the total number of laps raced may increase due to caution flags and pace laps. The tracks in NASCAR range from 1/4 miles long to over 4 miles, and a lap will always be one time around the track’s distance. Each track always has the same lap distance per race, and that doesn’t change during a race, and unless barriers or other track adjustments are made on a course, it won’t change much at a location either.
What is the Distance of a Lap in NASCAR? (How Long is a Lap in NASCAR?)
The distance of a lap in NASCAR depends on the length of the track, with longer tracks having longer laps and shorter courses having shorter laps. A lap is one complete circuit of a track driven by the racer, and so the total mileage of the track represents the distance of one lap. A race’s distance goal is usually in miles ranging from 150 to 600.
Each qualifying lap will add to the total race distance, and once the goal has been passed, the race is over. A track with a long-distance lap will have a lower lap count over the course of the race than a track with a short length. Laps needed to finish a race range from less than 100 to more than 500, but the distance stays fixed throughout the race and is equal to the length of the track in miles.