Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
#NASCAR Draft Master

Winning may not be all Earnhardt does at Talladega Superspeedway, but the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS does have six wins on the 2.66-mile tri-oval, more than he has at any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit. 

Last season, he won there in the spring race and entered Talladega’s fall race in a win-to-continue Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup scenario, where he finished second, just missing his opportunity to make it into the penultimate round of the Chase. 

With an average of 93.8, Earnhardt has the best driver rating among active drivers at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points.

“We’re going to have ‘Amelia.’ She is fixed and (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) says she is going to be the primary. He’s fired up his Twitter account recently … and he let all the fans know on Monday that Amelia is coming back. I’m excited about that – we know how she ran last year. We just have to run Talladega like we have to win it, just like we did the last time we were there. We did a good job. If we run it like that, we’ll be up front at the end.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Talladega.

What Is The Draft:

The aerodynamic function of a NASCAR race car or truck can dramatically impact competition on the sport's fastest tracks. It can also make teammates out of unlikely rivals seeking an advantage.

The process of "drafting" has been in practice since the superspeedway boom of the 1960s, when it was discovered that two cars moving in close nose-to-tail formation could cut through the air easier than one car by itself. The mutually beneficial partnership reduces the amount of turbulent ("dirty") air around multiple cars, allowing all cars in the draft to make small but important gains in speed.e.

Even 50 years later, the use of the aerodynamic slipstream is still an important facet of high-speed competition. The increased efficiency of air flow helped lead to the popularity of the tandem draft, which caused a vacuum effect behind the lead car, allowing a closely following car to move with much less resistance in the air, thus more speed. The extra speed of the second car makes drafting also beneficial to the leading car, as multiple cars can travel faster than a single car. The introduction of the Generation-6 car, however, helped minimize the effectiveness of the tandem draft, reviving pack racing.

See the graphic below to see the difference clean air makes during a NASCAR race:

Drafting is most important at NASCAR's restrictor plate tracks, Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, where the plates mean that much less power is available to push the large bodies through the air. 

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