When most people hear the term “NASCAR,” they immediately think of the Sprint Cup Series, whether they realize it or not. Non-fans think of top drivers like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch. Fans of the sport look forward to watching these drivers take on the top tracks. But there’s much more to NASCAR than one series.
The top series in NASCAR is, of course, the Sprint Cup Series. Originally known as Strictly Stock (1949), the Grand National Division (1950 to 1970), the Winston Cup Series (1971 to 2003), and the NEXTEL Cup Series (2004 to 2007), the Sprint Cup Series is the pinnacle of stock car racing success throughout the country, with the top sponsors and the best equipment.
The next series in rank – NASCAR’s version of a Triple-A affiliate in Major League Baseball – is the Nationwide Series. The Nationwide Series is both a proving ground for up-and-coming drivers and a practice turf for Sprint Cup regulars – these drivers were once known as “Buschwhackers,” a reference to former series sponsor Anheuser-Busch. Nationwide Series races are often run in conjunction with Cup Series races, usually a Saturday/Sunday lineup or a Friday night/Saturday night lineup.
The newest member of NASCAR’s national series is the Camping World Truck Series, which started in 1995 as the Craftsman SuperTruck Series, and was later simply known as the Craftsman Truck Series (until 2008). The Truck Series features race-modified production pickup trucks (think F-150s, Silverados, Rams, and Tundras) on many of the same tracks as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Many top NASCAR owners field teams for development drivers, and top drivers often get into ownership via the Truck Series.
NASCAR also sanctions seven regional series in Canada, Mexico, and the US. The NASCAR Home Tracks program features the Canadian Tire Series, a 13-race series taking place throughout Canada at varying tracks like Delaware Speedway, a 1/2-mile oval track in London, Ontario, and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a 2.71-mile temporary street course in Montreal, Quebec. The NASCAR Mexico Series has a 14-race schedule on a variety of tracks south of the border.
The K&N Pro Series East and West Divisions are regional series that race on NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. The K&N Pro Series East, merged from the former Busch East and Busch North Series, races ten times at Northeast and Southeast tracks such as New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and South Boston Speedway. The K&N Pro Series West, once known as the Winston West Series, races a 12-race schedule at Western US tracks such as Infineon Raceway, Phoenix International Raceway, and Colorado National Speedway. While separated across the country, both series run under a unified rule package.
The Whelen Modified Tour and Southern Modified Tour feature NASCAR’s version of open-wheel cars – based on a tubular chassis built by fabricators featuring partial “stock” cars. The Modified Division is NASCAR’s oldest division, dating back to 1947; the Southern Division debuted in 2005. Most races in both series are on asphalt oval short tracks; two combined races are held each year in Martinsville, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee. These series also run under a unified rules package.
The Whelen All-American Series is a national points championship for local weekly NASCAR-sanctioned tracks across the US and Canada. Its points system is complex, as it draws on many divisions from many different tracks, both asphalt and dirt.
source: “NASCAR Home Tracks,” nascar.com