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NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, and it is one of the premier auto racing series in the world. The three best known NASCAR series are the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. There are also a number of regional NASCAR series.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, which is often called the Cup Series, is the top tier of NASCAR. The series started in 1949. At the time it was called the Strictly Stock Division. The series then became known as the Grand National Division. Through a series of sponsorship deals, it has also been known as the Winston Cup Series, the Nextel Cup Series, and the Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR drivers in the Cup Series are awarded points based on where they finish and the number of laps that they lead in a given race. The NASCAR schedule is divided into two parts. The first part includes 26 races. Following those races, the top 16 drivers advance to the NASCAR playoffs, known as the Chase, which is a series of 10 races that determine the Cup Series champion.
NASCAR Cup Series cars are capable of driving faster than 200 miles per hour. The cars have a front-engine design with rear-wheel drive. While there are a number of different automakers and models in the series, the cars are regulated to ensure parity among vehicles. With the cars being relatively similar, there is more emphasis on the drivers' skills.
The first person to win the NASCAR championship was Red Byron in 1949. Herb Thomas became the first driver to win multiple NASCAR titles in 1953, after previously winning in 1951. Three drivers share the record for most NASCAR championships. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson have each won seven NASCAR Cup Series titles. Johnson stands out because he won five of his seven titles in a row, from 2006 through 2010.
The most prestigious race on the NASCAR circuit is the Daytona 500. First run in 1959, the Daytona 500 now takes place each February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida. The race consists of 200 laps around the 2.5-mile tri-oval track. Richard Petty has also holds a record in that race, having won the Daytona 500 seven times. The Daytona 500 starts the NASCAR Cup Series season, which is unique from other sports where the most prominent competition comes at the end of the season.
NASCAR races are held on a number of different types of tracks. The majority of races are held on oval-shaped tracks. But there are a handful of races that take place on road courses with more turns. Some NASCAR tracks are short, like the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway. Others are quite long, such as the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.