Tech Talk – Nationwide Series

2012-NNS-500x300The Nationwide Series has its own unique beauty within NASCAR‘s top-three series

This is the second Tech Talk installment featuring NASCAR’s top-three series and their own unique qualities. The focus here is on the Nationwide Series.

The Nationwide Series is NASCAR’s most direct feeder into their top-level Sprint Cup Series and although the similarities are prevalent, there are some differences as well. Both similarities and differences will be discussed, using the same format of focusing on four key areas including, unique attraction to fans, technology of the vehicle, equipment and finally, the rules structures of the teams.

Unique attraction to fans

It is rare for any driver to come into the Sprint Cup Series without first racing at least one of NASCAR’s two other elite feeder series – the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series. To learn more about the Camping World Truck Series, read our feature Tech Talk – Camping World Truck Series.

In most cases, the Nationwide Series is considered the last stepping stone to the Sprint Cup Series. The drivers that shine in their Nationwide races, usually get their chance to rise to the top rung with the best drivers in the world, as part of the Sprint Cup Series – NASCAR’s most elite series.

The Nationwide Series gives fans a chance to watch drivers develop their skills as they race with a few of the Sprint Cup Series drivers that also run cars in this series, as non-point contenders for the win. If a Nationwide driver wins over NASCAR’s best drivers, they have really accomplished something big within their careers and it’s thrilling for fans to watch.

Another unique quality of the Nationwide Series – unlike Camping World Truck or Sprint Cup Series’ – is their race schedule takes them outside of the United States into Mexico and Canada. This adds another layer of intrigue for fans watching the Nationwide Series, as drivers from those countries meet the challenge and enter the competition when the Nationwide Series teams come to their neighborhood.

Technology of the vehicles

After more than three years of design, testing and open dialogue between NASCAR
and series teams, the newest Nationwide car made its historic race debut in 2010 at four tracks of varying distances, including  – Daytona, Michigan, Richmond and Charlotte. Some may remember, Dale Earnhardt Jr won the debut race at Daytona on July 2nd. The new car was a collaborative effort throughout the industry, from conception to officially racing on-track, with teams and manufacturers playing significant roles in the process.

An interesting tidbit is that more than 50 percent of NASCAR Nationwide cars have been converted from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars. Over time, that means that teams won’t have to build as many specialty cars, aiding in cost containment.

Additionally, the new NASCAR Nationwide Series car provides the same safety enhancements that are in place for the Sprint Cup car and also makes more bolt-on parts interchangeable (for example, rear end housing).

Another distinguishing element is the 110″ wheelbase of the NNS car versus the 105″ wheelbase of their older car, making them the same as the Sprint Cup cars. They still use the rear spoiler and also have a front splitter.

Here’s a closer look at the specifics of the current Nationwide Series car:

NNS Car

As for specifications between Sprint Cup and Nationwide series cars there are many similarities in chassis, engine displacement, transmission, and their safety features. But there are several differences, some slight, a few more significant. Horsepower is a big difference between the series’ cars, with Cup cars at 850hp and NNS cars at 650-700hp. Other differences are seen in the size of the cars; they include the length of NNS cars at 203.75ins. compared to G6 cars at 196.5ins. – width at 75ins for NNS and 77ins for G6 cars – height at 51ins for NNS and significantly higher at 54ins for G6 cars. And the 3200 pounds in weight of the NNS cars is about 100 pounds less than that of Sprint Cup cars at 3,300 pounds.

A new distinction was added in 2012 when NASCAR changed the fuel delivery system in Cup cars, changing from carburetion to fuel injection. Nationwide Series cars are still carbureted.

Another distinction between the cars became clear in 2008. NASCAR had developed rain tires for road course racing in both series, but never had to use them in race conditions. The rain tire was abandoned by Sprint Cup Series in 2005, but the Nationwide Series continued to use rain tires in races at Autodrome Hermanos Rodrigues and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since the races could not be planned with rain dates. Many may recall when rain started to fall at the 2008 NAPA Auto Parts 200, the tires were given their first laps in the rain.

Equipment

The new Nationwide series car was actually the first re-introduction of brand identity for manufacturers. Unlike the G6 car that mirror the sportier, standard street versions of their racing counterparts, two of the Nationwide Series cars take on more of a “muscle car” design, including the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang, along with the fresh, sporty looks to the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Camry – the standard models for those manufacturers. Their introduction immediately created a buzz with fans and drivers  – similar to the Sprint Cup Series G6 introduction. In both cases, however, each of the new car models fit into the look of passenger cars that are on the road today.

2010-NNSCars

The Nationwide CoT shares its chassis  and body with the Sprint Cup car, when the wheelbase increased from 105 to a 110 mirroring that of Cup cars, making it easier to convert older Cup cars to NNS cars – a cost saving measure.

Again, similar to the Sprint Cup G6 cars, the goals of this new design include, closer competition, cost containment, safety enhancements and creating a specific identity for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The Nationwide series utilizes the same equipment as its sister series as far as tires (except rain tires), tech tools like specific body templates and weight requirements as well as many tech procedures required in all of NASCAR’s divisions.

The “cool factor” that is a major element of the NASCAR Nationwide Series car is that it was the first of NASCAR’s series’ cars that was created because the manufacturers worked diligently to create their own identity with their individual makes – even before the final creation of the Sprint Cup Series G6 cars.

Rules structure of the teams

Although the Nationwide Series races a lot of the same tracks as Sprint Cup, the races are shorter and they have three less races in their season at 33 versus 36 in Sprint Cup and 22 in Camping World Truck Series. The structure of the races, despite their few differences mirror the Cup series, for example, NASCAR regulates the number in sets of tires each team is allowed for each race, as well as how many pit crew members can go over the wall to service the car during race day.

The Nationwide Series offers a mixture of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series’ and that is what makes the Nationwide such an important part of NASCAR, with drivers making there way up the ladder. Think of Nationwide racing as being a kind of transition between the series’. As mentioned before, Nationwide drivers also have the opportunity to race against Cup drivers, gaining skills they will need to make the transition to Sprint Cup, kind of as the veteran hunting dog teaches the new pup how to hunt.

The mixture of shorter races, young guns from the truck series and the veteran drivers from the Cup series, transitioning drivers with new faces and talent in the 2013 season, the Nationwide Series with its own unique style, is a beautiful thing!

Race Fans – Do you have questions about the tech talk in this blog? Or perhaps, you’ve always wondered about some of the more technical aspects of NASCAR? When you have a question, the best way to get an answer is to ASK. When you ask, Rich will answer your NASCAR Tech Talk questions via his weekly blog. There are three ways you can submit questions for Rich. 1. comment below, 2.  email your questions to Rich Foust, or 3. hit Rich up on twitter @Foust39

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