NASCAR Handicapping Notes by Track

*Stats and notes reflect prior to start of 2017 season

Atlanta Motor Speedway
Track has one of the oldest surfaces on the circuit which will be repaved following 2017 March race. Tire wear and long run speed is more important here than any other 1.5 mile track. In regards to banking and design, both Charlotte and Texas are nearly identical in comparison.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson has 5 wins including each of the last two years (2015/2016). Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, and Kurt Busch all have 3 wins. Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Havick all have average finishing positions of less than 10th over the last 10 races.

Auto Club Speedway
Similar in size and shape to Michigan’s 2.0 mile complex. However, Auto Club Speedway’s surface is much more rugged and aged compared to Michigan. Track surface is rough which causes significant tire fall off and grip issues. Not nearly as horsepower independent as some of the bigger tracks like Michigan and Indy. Drivers that can search for grip throughout the race typically run better.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 6 wins. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each have 3 victories. Busch has posted finishes of 3rd or better in 5 of last 8 starts.

Bristol Motor Speedway
Unlike any other short track, a half-mile bullring with banking at 30 degrees known as the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Patience, consistency, and aggressiveness are just a few of the magical combinations needed to win here.

Handicapping Notes: Busch brothers (Kyle 5 wins, Kurt 5 wins). Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth each have 4 wins. *9 of last 11 previous race winners have started in the top 8.

Charlotte Motor Speedway
1.5 mile track that resembles the layout/design of Texas and Atlanta. Home of the All-Star Race, Coca-Cola 600, and Bank of America 500.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson owns Charlotte (actually holds the key to the city, 7 wins leads all drivers), Kasey Kahne (4 wins, most at any track). Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin very strong in recent years.

Chicagoland Speedway
One of the newest tracks in NASCAR but surface has weathered significantly since 2001. Track is very abrasive and has many bumps that cause handling issues. Track favors drivers that search for grooves and can manage tires well.

Handicapping Notes: Brad Keselowski (2 wins in 8 starts), Kevin Harvick the only other 2 time winner (2001 and 2002). Rookies Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott both finished inside Top 5 in 2016 race. Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson also notoriously strong here

Darlington Raceway
Extremely unique 1.25 mile track nicknamed “Too Tough To Tame.” Very narrow corners that requires drivers to run right against the wall for speed. Very difficult track for setups and even harder on drivers.

Handicapping Notes: Denny Hamlin (6.27 average finishing position in 11 career starts). Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle only drivers with multiple Darlington wins. *13 of last 15 race winners have started inside the top 12.

Daytona International Speedway
2.5 mile superspeedway and home of the Daytona 500. 1 of 2 restrictor plate tracks on circuit which are known for potentially producing surprise winners. However, Daytona is typically more handling and aerodynamic dependent and produces very few “surprise” winners when compared to Talladega.

Handicapping Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr (4 wins including two Daytona 500’s, also owns best average finishing position), Jimmie Johnson (3 wins)

Dover International Speedway
Nicknamed “The Monster Mile”, Dover is like Bristol on steroids. A short 1 mile track that races like a 1.5 mile speedway with high speeds and high banking. Only track along with Bristol that is fully concrete.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson’s best track (10 wins), Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman each have 3 wins. Several other drivers typically run well here such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr

Homestead-Miami Speedway
Host the season finale every year and home of the Championship Round of the Chase. 1.5 mile surface that has progressive banking which typically provides a lot of side by side racing. Track is a traditional oval shaped 1.5 mile speedway but typically runs similar tire setup as Texas.

Handicapping Notes: Greg Biffle leads all active drivers with 3 wins. Kevin Harvick has posted a 5.9 average finishing position over last 10 races. Matt Kesenth, Jamie McMurray, and Kyle Larson strong in recent years.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
2.5 mile infamous speedway and home to the Indy 500 (Indycar) and Brickyard 400. Track is more of a rectangular shape but produces high speeds similar to Pocono and Michigan. Fuel mileage and track position often important in these races.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson (4 wins), Kyle Busch only other active driver with multiple wins. Kyle Larson 3 Top 10 finishes in 3 starts. *Chevrolet drivers won 12 of last 14.

Kansas Speedway
1.5 mile surface with similar shape to Charlotte, Kentucky, Texas, and Atlanta. Track most closely resembles Kentucky. Newer surface is less problematic for tire wear and fall off speed.

Handicapping Notes: Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth have average finishing positions of 7th or better over last 10 starts. Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 3 wins. Kevin Harvick, Geg Biffle, Matt Kenset, and Joey Logano also have multiple wins.

Kentucky Speedway
1.5 mile track with that is shaped similarly o Charlotte/Atlanta/Texas but with less banking at 17 degrees. Track was repaved and reconfigured prior to 2016 season meaning surface is the newest in the Cup Series.

Handicapping Notes: Brad Keselowski (3 wins in just 6 starts), Kyle Busch (2 wins in 6 starts)

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
1.5 mile track with banking that goes up to 20 degrees. Track is likely most similar to Ketucky and Kansas in terms of banking which is less steep than places like Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas. Tire setup and compound is usually different than other 1.5 mile tracks. Often setup dependent

Handicapping Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr has best average finishing position over last 10 races (7.8), Jimmie Johnson (4 wins), Matt Kenseth (3 wins)

Martinsville Speedway
Half-mile track that resembles a “Paper-Clip”. Heavy emphasis on corner entry braking and consistency. Track position always extremely important.

Handicapping Notes: Jimmie Johnson (9 wins), Denny Hamlin (5 wins),

Michigan International Speedway
The fastest track in the Cup Series at 2 miles in length producing average speeds over 200mph. Track has some similarities to Indianapolis in chassis design and setup.

Handicapping Notes: Greg Biffle’s best track (4 wins, 3rd best average finishing position). Chase Elliott finished 2nd twice at Michigan as a rookie in 2016. *Kevin Harvick has posted runner-up finishes in 5 of last 8 races and top 5 finishes in 7 of last 8.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Nicknamed “The Magic Mile”. New Hampshire is a 1 mile track with just 12 degrees of banking. Very flat style of racing that puts emphasis on corner entry angle and corner exit speed. Often setup dependent

Handicapping Notes: One of the most level tracks on the circuit in terms of wins with 10 different drivers owning multiple victories. Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth easily the best in recent years.

Phoenix International Raceway
1 mile triangle shaped raceway that is very flat with just 10 degrees of banking. Can be considered similar to New Hampshire in corner angles and setup.

Handicapping Notes: Kevin Harvick’s best track and favorite track (8 wins, won 5 of last 7), Jimmie Johnson (4 wins, best average finishing position). Joey Logano and Dale Earnhrdt Jr very strong ratings in recent races.

Pocono Raceway
Known as the “Tricky Triangle.” Pocono is a large 2.5 mile triangular surface with 3 distinct turns that rely heavily on car setup and speed.

Handicapping Notes: Denny Hamlin (4 wins), Jimmie Johnson/Kurt Busch (3 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr owns best average finishing position over last 10 starts which includes 2014 sweep, Chevrolet drivers have won 7 of last 9 races.

Richmond International Raceway
The only track in NASCAR’s Cup Series at .75 mile in length. Considered a short track along with Bristol and Martinsville. However, tracks races more closely to Phoenix and New Hampshire which are also flatter surfaces.

Handicapping Notes: Denny Hamlin’s home track (3 wins, 2nd best average finishing position), Kyle Busch (4 wins, best average finishing position). Both Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr also have 3 wins.

Sonoma Raceway
Host the first road course race each year in the Cup Series. Smaller than Watkins Glen at 2.52 miles and not nearly as demanding on braking into the turns.

Handicapping Notes: Kyle Busch only active driver with multiple wins. Clint Bowyer (1 win and best average finishing position), 8 different race winners in last 8 races.

Talladega Superspeedway
2.66 mile restrictor plate superspeedway. Unlike Daytona, handling not nearly as important. Talladega is very wide which allows several lanes of drafting. Raw speed and positioning are most important here for an opportunity at victory.

Handicapping Notes: Brad Keselowski (4 wins in 16 starts), Dale Earnhardt Jr (6 wins), Clint Bowyer owns best average finishing position of drivers with more than 10 starts. Last 3 winners have come from Team Penske (Joey Logano (2), Brad Keselowski)

Texas Motor Speedway
Nearly identical layout and design with both Charlotte and Atlanta. Track is currently under a repave and configuration change to resolve aging issues seen in prior races. Configuration change will involve banking decreasing from 24 to 20 degrees in turns 1 and 2 and widening racing surface by 20 feet. Turns 3 and 4 will remain the same. Completion is scheduled for early March.

Handicapping Notes: Matt Kenseth (2 wins, best average finishing position), Jimmie Johnson (4 wins overall including 3 of the last 5)

Watkins Glen International
One of a kind road course facility totaling 3.4 miles in length. Fuel/Pit strategy often comes into play at tracks this size. Unlike Sonoma, Watkins Glen typically favors experience and open wheel experience due to the track’s heavy braking zones.

Handicapping Notes: Kyle Busch is the only active driver with multiple wins at the Glen and also houses the best average finishing position (7.9) over the last 10 races. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano have been best in recent years.