When you look at a NASCAR schedule, you may see the number 500 multiple times, and when you watch some of the sport’s most popular races, they often run for 500 miles. So, you may therefore wonder if all NASCAR races are 500 miles long.
Not all NASCAR races are 500 miles, and there are more 400-mile races on the schedule than 500-mile races. Each of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel Races do run for 500 miles or more, but many regular races do not run as far. 80% of NASCAR Cup Series races are shorter than 500 miles.
Below, we will outline how many miles NASCAR races last, and we will also provide a table to give you a visual on how long each of the 36 points-paying races go for. We will then discuss if all races are the same number of laps, before elaborating on whether NASCAR races should be shortened.
How Many Miles Is A NASCAR Race?
NASCAR races vary in length, but most are around 300-600 miles in length. However, some races, like the Bristol Dirt Race, are actually under 150 miles. Other races, especially those held on road courses, are also well below the 500-mile mark.
The reason many new NASCAR fans may believe all races are 500 miles in length is because many associate the word 500 with NASCAR, most likely because of its most popular race, the Daytona 500. But when you glance at the schedule, you will see that nearly half the schedule comprises 400-mile races as opposed to 500.
Fourteen races are 400 miles to be exact, whereas just six are 500 or 501 miles. Two of these are considered part of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel Races: The Daytona 500 (Race #1), and the Southern 500 (Race #27). Interestingly, these two races kick off NASCAR’s regular season and NASCAR’s Playoffs, respectively.
NASCAR Race Lengths
|Auto Club||400 miles||300|
|Las Vegas||400.5 miles||267|
|Circuit of the Americas||233 miles||68|
|Road America||250.5 miles||62|
|New Hampshire||318.5 miles||301|
|Indianapolis (Road Course)||200 miles||82|
|Watkins Glen||221 miles||90|
|Charlotte Roval||400 miles||109|
|Las Vegas||400.5 miles||267|
You will see several tracks listed twice, and that is because NASCAR does grant select tracks two races per season. However, you will also notice that the race lengths even at the same tracks will vary, for example, there is also a 400-mile race at Daytona.
39% of NASCAR Cup Series races are 400 miles long, while about 80% are less than 500 miles long
Are NASCAR Races All The Same Number Of Laps?
Not all NASCAR races are the same number of laps. Some races, like the road courses, could be as short as 62 laps, which is the case at Road America. Other races, such as those at short tracks like Martinsville and Bristol, can have as many as 500 laps.
Are NASCAR Races All The Same Length?
NASCAR races are not all the same length. The longest race on the schedule is the first Charlotte race, the Coca Cola 600. It acts as NASCAR’s endurance race. The event is so long that it lasts from late afternoon and into the night. At the other extreme, the Bristol Dirt Race lasts just 133 miles.
Which NASCAR Races Are 500 Miles?
NASCAR races that are 500 miles long are:
- Talladega (2 races)
The most well-known NASCAR race, the Daytona 500, is the first race of the season and it lasts for 500 miles. This race traces its roots back to NASCAR’s earliest days in the 1949 Strictly Stock Series, except from 1949 until 1958 drivers raced at a makeshift road course on Daytona Beach.
Atlanta Spring Race
The first Atlanta race on the schedule is also 500 miles. Often called the Atlanta Spring Race, the inaugural event occurred in 1960 and it was a 300-mile race before NASCAR bumped it up to 400 miles between 1961 and 1966. From 1967 and onward, the race length has averaged out at 500 miles, often between 499 and 501.
Spring Talladega Race
The first Talladega event on the schedule, or the Spring Talladega Race is also 500 miles in length, and it is the tenth race on the schedule. Since NASCAR held the inaugural event in 1970, the Talladega Spring Race has traditionally been a 500-mile affair. Note that some, but not all, consider the Talladega Spring Race a Crown Jewel event.
The second Darlington Race is the fourth 500-mile event, and it serves as the first race of the NASCAR Playoffs. One of NASCAR’s oldest events, this Crown Jewel Race ran its inaugural event in 1950 and it has always been a 500-mile affair except when inclement weather has other ideas.
Texas Motor Speedway dropped from hosting two points-paying races per year to just one, and it has always run for 500 miles since the Fall Race’s inception in 2005. NASCAR used to host a spring event at Texas that started in 1997 and ended in 2020. That event also ran for 500 miles and has since been replaced by the non-points-paying All-Star Race.
The Fall Talladega Race is the last 500-mile event on the schedule. And like the Spring Race, it too has run for 500 miles since the first event occurred in 1969 except in the event of inclement weather.
KEY POINTS• Not all NASCAR races are 500 miles, and they range from 133 miles to 600 miles in length
• Some races can be different lengths even if they’re held at the same track
• There are six 500-mile races on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule
How Long Was The First NASCAR Race?
The first NASCAR race was 150 miles long, and it was won by Jim Roper at the Charlotte Speedway. The race occurred in 1949, the year of NASCAR’s first full season. There was, however, a NASCAR-sanctioned race a year earlier, but there are no records of its length.
Although NASCAR’s inaugural season did not begin until 1949, it ran its first sanctioned race one year earlier in February 1948. Red Byron won the first NASCAR race, and it was held at the Daytona Beach and Road Course, just minutes from where Daytona International Speedway now stands.
So, let’s fast-forward to NASCAR’s first season in 1949, and records exist for the first race of that season. It took place at the Charlotte Speedway on June 19th, 1949, and Jim Roper won the 150-mile event that lasted for 200 laps. 33 cars raced for a winner’s purse of $5,000. The race consisted of just two lead changes, and Bob Flock won the pole position.
Should NASCAR Races Be Shortened?
Some drivers have been in favor of NASCAR races being shortened, other than the Crown Jewel races. This is mainly because of how grueling the long races can be for everyone involved, including the drivers, their teams, and even the sponsors that pay a large chunk of change to fund rides.
Shorter races could keep the overall costs down as it would put fewer miles on the cars and therefore equate to lesser wear and tear. But it isn’t just the lower costs and lesser physical and mental demands on the drivers – shorter races could potentially create a better product for the sport itself.
One reason is that, with shorter races, there would be a higher sense of urgency for drivers to compete earlier in the race instead of using a sit and wait strategy for 250 of the first 500 miles. If a race were cut down from 500 miles to just 400 or even 300 miles, especially at a fast track, drivers could not pick a place in the pack and sit there as long without making a challenge.
Not Crown Jewel Races
While drivers like Kevin Harvick have made compelling arguments in the past regarding how much more intense shorter races could get, there was one catch: The Crown Jewel Races like the Daytona 500, Southern 500, and Coca Cola 600 would remain at their current lengths.
Since the aforementioned races hold a different meaning for fans, teams and drivers, they would be less willing to see the Crown Jewels shrink because that intensity and sense of urgency is already on another level at Daytona, Darlington, and Charlotte. However, whether any NASCAR races will get shorter in future remains to be seen, and is unlikely for now.
Not all NASCAR races are 500 miles, and most are much shorter, with 14 races on the schedule being 400 miles long. The road course races are usually under 300 miles long. NASCAR races are not all the same length, and they don’t all consist of the same numbers of laps.
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