NASCAR vs V8 Supercars: Which Is Faster? (7 Differences)

When you compare NASCAR and Australian V8 Supercars and ask which is faster, you need to first look at the differences between the cars. The two series have many similarities, but they are also different in other aspects, which makes it interesting to compare NASCAR and V8 Supercars.

The 7 differences between NASCAR and V8 Supercars are:

  1. Types of race tracks
  2. Number of manufacturers
  3. Number of race weekends
  4. Race format
  5. Engine specs
  6. Tech specs
  7. Championship format

Below, we will outline the main differences between NASCAR and V8 Supercars. We will also answer whether NASCAR uses V8 engines like their Supercar counterparts, and we will reveal whether NASCAR cars or the V8 Supercars are faster. 

7 Differences Between NASCAR And V8 Supercars

1. Types Of Race Tracks

The first immediate difference that will jump out at you will be the types of race tracks NASCAR and V8 Supercars race on. NASCAR has traditionally raced on ovals, often in the Southeastern United States. These oval tracks still dominate the NASCAR landscape in 2022, although more road courses have crept onto the schedule. 

As of 2022, Australian V8 Supercars race only on road courses. Some of these road courses are closed circuits, like Sydney Motorsport Park. You will also find street circuits on the V8 schedule that include the Newcastle Street Circuit and the Reid Park Street Circuit. 

These differences may be further decreasing in 2023, as NASCAR is adding a street race to their schedule, with the Streets of Chicago acting as the venue. NASCAR’s Next Gen car is also geared more toward allowing drivers to turn right easier, which further hints at more road courses and street races in the future. 

2. Number Of Manufacturers

In 2022, V8 Supercars raced with two manufacturers: Ford and Holden. Just four Championship Series organizations opted to use Fords. Seven organizations used the Holden Commodore in 2022, and Holden also seems to be the more successful of the two manufacturers. 

In NASCAR, we saw three manufacturers in play during the inaugural season of the Next Gen car: Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota. This has been the case for NASCAR since Dodge dropped out of the series following the 2012 NASCAR Season. 

Interestingly, both NASCAR and Supercars employ the Ford Mustang. So, while there are many differences between the two series, the Mustang gives them at least one similarity!

However, come 2024, NASCAR is planning on potentially shifting toward a hybrid drivetrain. This could further lower costs and, in turn, lure more manufacturers into the series. If such a transition occurs, expect the differential gap between V8 Supercars and NASCAR to narrow even more, as the V8 Supercars Championship is targeting 2023 as its year to unveil a hybrid.  

3. Number Of Race Weekends 

In this case, Supercars is more akin to another NASCAR Series known as the Whelen Series, which is the sanctioning body’s European branch. Like Supercars, the Whelen Series races mainly on road courses, but they also have a substantially lower number of race weekends. 

The V8 Supercars rarely run events on back-to-back weekends. For example, in 2022, the series ran its first race weekend on March 5th and 6th. They did not race again until the weekend of March 25th-26th. 

In the NASCAR Cup Series, there are 36 points-paying race weekends and an additional two money-paying weekends. These are the Clash and the All-Star Race. NASCAR races on nearly every weekend between February and November before they take December through January off. But even then, drivers are still running testing and practice sessions. 

While NASCAR can run up to five events during certain months of the year, the Supercars Championship often limits its number of events to no more than two per month between March and December. 

4. Race Format

The two series also have entirely different race formats, with NASCAR opting for one event for the Cup Series races comprising three stages. In NASCAR, most races include a first and second stage, both of which comprise one quarter of the race, plus a third stage for the race’s second half. 

NASCAR gives bonus points to stage winners and drivers who finish in the top ten. The race winner is the driver who finishes first following the third stage. If inclement weather affects a NASCAR race, the event may be called if the first two stages are complete, so whoever is leading during the third stage wins the race. 

While you can make an argument that NASCAR races these days are divided into three mini-races, they are really fractions of an overarching race. And since the race winner is the driver leading the last lap of the third stage, this differs drastically from the format found in V8 Supercars. 

Supercars 

As mentioned, V8 Supercars only have 13 race weekends, but they actually have 34 races on the schedule. This means some races on the schedule, such as the Tasmania SuperSprint held in late March, holds three races between Friday and Sunday. Other events, like the Melbourne 400, hold four races. 

These races, like NASCAR, are often three-day events that have practice and qualifying sessions. Then, each individual race is held based on a fraction of the number of kilometers the event is to last. So, with the Melbourne 400, each of the four races comprises 100 kilometers (62 miles)

The same drivers compete in each event. So, there are times where it is possible for a V8 Supercar driver to sweep an entire weekend if they win all of the races. Each race offers a specific number of points to each driver, depending on where they finish. The most any single driver can earn in a single weekend is 300 points.

5. Engine Specs

NASCAR’s Next Gen engine specifications include naturally aspirated engines with V8 pushrods that target 670 horsepower (500 kW) at most tracks and 510 horsepower (380 kW) at superspeedways. These engines require fuel injection, and they operate with a sequential, five-speed transmission. The Next Gen engine has 358 cubic inches (5.86 liters) of displacement. 

The Supercars use 5 liters (305 cubic inches) of displacement, and like NASCAR engines, Supercars’ engines are geared specifically for racing. They are also slightly weaker in terms of horsepower, clocking in between 620 and 650 (460-485 kW). While NASCAR engines can produce 10,000 rpm, Supercars are also behind in that regard, reaching just 7,500 rpm

6. Tech Specs

Further differences between NASCAR cars and V8 Supercars include a few technical specifications, one of which involves the fuel used for the respective cars. The V8 Supercar uses Shell E85 Race Blend. This includes 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petrol. NASCAR is the exact opposite, with Sunoco Green E15, comprising 15 percent ethanol, and 85 percent petrol. 

The minimal weights are also different, with NASCAR cars required to weigh at least 3,400 lbs (1,545 kg) with the car and driver combined. V8 Supercars must only weigh 3,100 lb (1,410 kg). The NASCAR Next Gen car also uses a steel tube chassis while V8 Supercars require a chromoly chassis. 

Before the advent of the Next Gen car, there were even more differences between NASCAR and V8 Supercars. However, the Next Gen introduced 18 inch (46 cm) aluminum wheels and an independent rear suspension, both of which had been used in V8 Supercars. 

7. Championship Format

NASCAR’s championship format has changed numerous times over the years, but its current format includes 16 drivers making what are called the NASCAR playoffs. After three races, the Round of 12 begins with the 12 best performing drivers moving on. Then, the field narrows to eight drivers after another three races. 

Once the next batch of three races has been completed, the playoff field narrows to the Championship Four. The driver that finishes with the highest number of points wins the NASCAR Cup

The V8 Supercars championship format is much more straightforward and reminiscent of NASCAR’s old Winston Cup days. In short, the driver who earns the highest number of points for the season will win the Drivers’ Championship. 

Do NASCAR Cars Use V8 Engines?

NASCAR cars use V8 engines, and this has almost always been the case. NASCAR’s current specs require V8 pushrod engines with a targeted horsepower package of 670, except at superspeedways and the newly configured Atlanta Motor Speedway, where just 510 horsepower is produced. 

While NASCAR has used V8 engines with previous generations, their engine specs have changed over the years. In 2022, NASCAR V8 engines are naturally aspirated, and fuel injected. But in the past, they relied on carburetors. In the Xfinity and Truck Series, you still see the carburetors used in 2022. 

The engines have also used varying horsepower over the years. The Gen 6 car ended up using packages that ranged as low as 410 (306 kW) for superspeedways, to those as high as 750 (559) for short tracks and road courses. 

What’s Faster: NASCAR Or V8 Supercar?

NASCAR is faster than Australian V8 Supercars, with NASCAR cars reaching speeds close to 200 mph while drafting, while the V8 Supercars top out at around 186 mph. However, during the average NASCAR race, the top speeds are often lower than those of V8 Supercars. 

No Side-By-Side Comparisons

Since NASCAR cars and V8 Supercars do not race on the same tracks, any comparison made will be speculative. While they do both race on road courses, the average speed of a race can only tell us so much, and they can be misleading because of on-track incidents, avoiding debris, spills, and caution flags. 

Since NASCAR and V8 Supercars do not race on any identical road courses, we cannot make an accurate comparison for a racing event. Therefore, we must look at a car’s projected top speed. For the V8 Supercars, that top speed rests at 186 mph (300 kph). Now that we know how fast a V8 Supercar can go, does NASCAR’s Next Gen car drive faster?

Next Gen Test Sessions

In January 2022, Speedweeks kicked off, and NASCAR Cup Series drivers ran test sessions with their new Next Gen cars. During drafting sessions, NASCAR cars ran at top speeds of 195 mph (314 kph). So, when drafting, you can say that the NASCAR Next Gen car is faster than the V8 Supercar. 

But here is where things get curious. Outside of drafting sessions, the Next Gen car ran at just 184 mph (296 kph), a little slower than the V8 Supercars. This implies that the V8 Supercars are faster than the NASCAR Next Gen car. 

This is further evidenced by qualifying speeds for the 2022 Daytona 500. Kyle Larson won the pole, posting an average speed of 181 mph (291 kph). The speeds were 10 mph (16 kph) slower than those of the Gen 6 car a year prior, in which Alex Bowman won the pole at 191 mph (307 kph). 

The NASCAR Next Gen car was never intended to drive faster than its predecessor. Instead, the Next Gen car was designed to provide an improved aerodynamics and downforce package, allowing the cars to grip the track better which would help keep them from flipping so easily. They also wanted to provide closer racing starting in 2022. 

And The Winner Is…

While the Generation 6 car held higher top speeds than the V8 Supercars, if we are going by 2022 numbers, the V8 Supercar edges out the NASCAR car on raw speed. However, with the right conditions, NASCAR Cup Series cars can go faster than V8 Supercars.

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR Cup Series cars use V8 engines that are slightly bigger and more powerful than those used in Australian V8 Supercars

• Both cars can reach speeds of about 186 mph

• NASCAR cars can go slightly faster as a result of drafting on straights

Final Thoughts

V8 Supercars are usually slightly faster than NASCAR cars. But speed is just one of a few differences between the two cars and their respective series. Since there are different race formats, number of race weekends, and tracks between the series, the cars themselves must be very different too. 

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