We’re fans of anything having to do with four wheels and obscene amounts of horsepower, so we thought we’d remind you that the Daytona 500, America’s Great Race, is happening this weekend.
And in case you aren’t fully caught up on your Daytona-ing, we also thought we’d give you a few prudent words to pepper into the conversation.
Herewith, 500 miles’ worth of knowledge in five key phrases…
Herewith, your 500 miles’ worth of knowledge in five phrases…
It’s anyone’s game.
In the past 10 years, the race has seen 10 different drivers soak champagne in victory lane—though last year’s victor wasn’t a day older than 20.
Reigning Sprint Cup champ and perennial Daytona bridesmaid Tony Stewart would be a solid bet.
This being Danica Patrick’s first Daytona 500, simply placing ahead of Earnhardt Jr. would be one helluva way to kickoff her stockcar career.
This is a plate race.
Meaning the teams are required to strap restrictor plates onto the engines—which blocks airflow into the engine, keeping the horsepower capped at the upper 400s.
(The rise of insanely fast crashes on the track in the ’80s prompted NASCAR to lower the engine’s max output here and at Talladega.)
Click to enlarge; Tyler Barrick
What that also means: there’s going to be a lot of drafting.
It’s physics. A lower pressure zone is created when more than one car lines up behind a leading car (bumpers within inches, speeds exceeding 100 mph) reducing resistance and allowing the restricted engines to build up some more speed.
(Additionally: when timed perfectly, the trailing car can use the leading car’s slipstream to slingshot ahead—you might recognize this phenomenon recreated on film as Ricky Bobby’s signature “Shake and Bake” move—which is hard to do in a plate race since engines have often already topped out at a speed lower than what they’re drafting.)
Key phrase: “A Big One.”
With cars stacked up in nearly bumper-to-bumper packs at triple-digit miles per hour, all while trying to squeeze as much speed as possible out of their engines and the laws of aerodynamics, there’s an increased potential for pile-ups.
As a rule of thumb, any pile-up that involves more than seven cars can officially be termed “A Big One.”
And remember: NASCAR is the second-best thing bootleggers ever did for us.
- Posted February 24, 2012
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