Rookie Stripe: Drafting - Six Things to Know

Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
“I don't think a lot of these guys are really good in the draft. There's a lot of skill to it.”
-- Junior Johnson

Drafting is one of those NASCAR strategies that seems easy enough to understand, but when you get down the nitty gritty, there is aerodynamics and flow of air, machines and forces and more. It can suddenly feel like you’re back in science class. Let’s just say it’s complicated.

Basics first. Drafting is a technique used by NASCAR drivers as part of an overall game plan to get ahead, and of course, to win. By utilizing drafting, they can save fuel and make other cars do more work, without falling behind. If you want to get a bit more technical, drafting is an aerodynamic phenomenon used in racing that involves multiple moving objects (race cars) in close proximity. When the cars are close to each other, it affects the overall drag on the cars, and of course, can affect their position in the race.

For purposes of filling up our Rookie tank, let’s stay with the essentials. Here are six things to know about drafting in NASCAR.

1. A disturbed air stream presents opportunity. Disturbed, or dirty, air in NASCAR is the churned-up air a lead car leaves in its wake. A second car can slide into that disturbed air stream and find a smooth ride, reducing forces on their own car.

2. Drafting reduces aero drag. Both the lead car and the car drafting behind it will have reduced aerodynamic forces, which is why you’ll often see teammates drafting off one another. It reduces turbulence behind the lead car, and reduces pressure on the front of the following car – meaning both can gain speed.

3. Drafting is also called slipstreaming. The verb slipstreaming simply refers to one car following directly behind another in the first car’s slipstream, or current of air.

4. Drafting is gas-friendly. Cars consume less fuel while drafting.

5. Side drafting is a thing. If a car comes up alongside another car, the current of air from that car’s nose can be transferred to the other car’s spoiler. Often used at longer tracks, this type of drafting forces the other car to slow down.

6. Drafting requires two or more cars. Sorry, but you can’t solo draft in your Prius through your neighborhood.
Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Watching a video of drafting
Drafting 101: It's not rocket science ... or is it?
Rookie Stripe: Drafting - Six Things to Know Rookie Stripe: Drafting - Six Things to Know Reviewed by Logan Stewart on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 Rating: 5