Each weekend the three series of NASCAR’s Nationwide races kick of on usually the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the weekend. There are some exceptions. Sometimes it feels like the racing can be on for the entirety of those 72 hours, but although NASCAR races are certainly long, there are certainly motor racing that is longer. In this article we will take a look at how many hours is a NASCAR Race.
The Average length of time A NASCAR race lasts is 3 hours and 8 mins across a full season. At either end of this scale races have lasted for 2 hours and 10 minutes up to 4 hours and 8 minutes. The race time will be affected by accidents, weather, Cautions, stoppages and the type of race or track being run.
Although there is a lot the same or at least very similar in NASCAR, especially the cars, there is plenty that is different, the tracks, the length of the race, the weather, the time of year and the events of the race itself all of which can factor into how long a NASCAR race is.
Below we will take a look at the most recent NASCAR Cup, XFinity and Truck Seasons to come to the average length of a NASCAR race, and take a look at some of the Factors that make NASCAR racing if not the longest, one of the longest motor racing sports.
How Many Hours is a NASCAR Race?
Although as we mentioned at the top of the article most NASCAR races are over from the Green to the Chequered flag in well under 4 hours, there are some races that take a little longer, and some that are much shorter.
The average from taking how long each race in the 2021 season took to complete and dividing it by 36, the number of races in a season makes an Average race duration of 3 hours and 8 mins per NASCAR race throughout the whole season.
The total number of hours and minutes to complete all races with no car issues or accidents would be 113 hours of racing during the season.
Total length of time racing / Races in a season = Average NASCAR race length.
113.05 hours / 36 = 3.14 hrs or 3 hours and 8 mins per race
The table below highlights the time taken, on track to complete the race and the distance covered for each race of each NASCAR Cup Series race. We have taken the data from 2021 just as a benchmark but unless you go back many years it is actually fairly similar in terms of hours racing.
Table 1: Race length in both Miles and hours / minutes of NASCAR Races.
|Race Name||Race Track / Speedway||Number of laps||Distance||Cup Series Race Time|
|1||Daytona 500||Daytona International||200||500 miles||3hrs 27:44|
|2||O’Reilly Auto parts 253||Daytona International ( road course)||70||253 miles||2hrs 59:32|
|3||Dixie Vodka 400||Homestead – Miami Speedway||267||400.5 miles||3hrs 12:45|
|4||Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||267||400.5 miles||2hrs 52:07|
|5||Instacart 500||Phoenix Raceway||312||318.8 miles||3hrs 0:20|
|6||Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway||325||500.5 miles||3hrs 27:41|
|7||Food City Dirt Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||250||134.8 miles||2hrs 43:53|
|8||Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500||Martinsville Speedway||500||263 miles||3hrs 54:25|
|9||Toyota Owners 400||Richmond raceway||400||300 miles||3hrs 06:57|
|10||GEICO 500||Talladega Superspeedway||191||508 miles||3hrs 26:30|
|11||Buschy McBusch Race 400||Kansas Speedway||267||400.5 miles||3hrs 05:21|
|12||Goodyear 400||Darlington Raceway||293||400.2 miles||3hrs 14:21|
|13||Drydene 400||Dover International Speedway||400||400 miles||3hrs 19:55|
|14||EchoPark Texas Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas||68||185 miles||3hrs 07:11|
|15||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||400||600 miles||3hrs 58:45|
|16||Toyota/Save Mart 350||Sonoma raceway||92||231.8 miles||3hrs 14:42|
|17||Ally 400||Nashville Superspeedway||300||400 miles||3hrs 30:23|
|18||Pocono Organics CBD 325||Pocono Raceway||130||325 miles||2hrs 30:38|
|19||Explore the Pocono Mountains 350||Pocono Raceway||140||350 miles||2hrs 26:49|
|20||Jockey Made in America 250||Road America||62||250.5 miles||2hrs 54:33|
|21||Quaker State 400||Atlanta Motor Speedway||260||400.4 miles||2hrs 50:08|
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
|New Hampshire motor Speedway||301||310 miles||3hrs 07:52|
|23||Go Bowling at The Glen||Watkins Glen||90||220.5 miles||2hrs 10:57|
|24||Verizon 200 at the Brickyard||Indianapolis motor Speedway||95||231.7 miles||3hrs 20:59|
|25||FireKeepers Casino 400||michigan International Speedway||200||400 miles||2hrs 48:27|
|26||Coke Zero Sugar 400||Daytona international Speedway||165||412.5 miles||2hrs 54:03|
|27||Cook Out Southern 500||Darlington Raceway||367||501 miles||4hrs: 08:01|
|28||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond Raceway||400||300 miles||3hrs 03:06|
|29||Bass Pro Shops Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||500||266.5 miles||3hrs 02:56|
|30||South Point 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||267||400.5 miles||2hrs 46:08|
|31||YellaWood 500||Talladega Motor Speedway||188||311.2 miles||2hrs 23:24|
|32||Bank of America Roval 400||Charlotte Roval||109||248 .5 miles||3hrs 15:04|
|33||Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500||Texas Motor Speedway||334||501 miles||3hrs 42:54|
|34||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway||267||400.5 miles||3hrs 03:49|
|35||Xfinity 500||Martinsville Speedway||501||263.5 miles||3hrs 42:48|
|36||NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race||Phoenix Raceway||312||312 miles||3hrs 06:33|
So How Much Time does a NASCAR Race Take?
As we mentioned above the average across a whole season ( the 2021 season in the case) the average over those 36 point scoring races is 3 hours and 8 mins. However before you book that time on a sunday to watch the race be aware that the there are outliers in race length.
- The longest NASCAR race in time was 4 hours and 8 mins at Darlington Raceway
- The shortest race was race in time was 2 hours and 11 mins at Watkins Glen
So in that season at least you could be watching the race for just over 2 hours or just over 4 hours, quite a difference in length.
There are factors that will affect the length of time a NASCAR race will take, some are to be expected and some are surprises. We take a look at the factors that determine hoe many hours a NASCAR race is below.
The Main Factors that Affect How Many hours a NASCAR Race is
We had highlighted some of the factors that contribute to the length in time of a NASCAR race above. We will explain a little about them each here, there are more than we discuss but these are the main potentially time consuming elements that can change a race length.
Although rare it is not unheard of for races to be completed on the following days, or even into the next week. More commonly delays of an hour or two can add to the time a NASCAR race can take and we look at these below.
Type of Racetrack
Although to the layman or casual observer it can look like NASCAR is committed to racing on ovals and mainly turning left for 4 to 500 miles. However even if this is the case ( which it isn’t) the ovals NASCAR does race on are not cookie cuttered out and identical (again contrary to some opinions) .
You can simply look at Daytona International Speedway and compare it to Bristol Motor Speedway to see how different they can be. One is a 2.5 miles 190 mile an hour average speed with sweeping turns oval and the other is frankly not. Bristol, although similar high banking doesn’t allow cars to get much over 87 miles an hour on average, and if it is laid out as a dirt track then not much over 50 miles an hour on average!
That’s just two examples, other oval tracks are older, have dog legs, maybe made of concrete ( looking at you Nashville!) they might have steep banking up to 30 degrees or shallow banking of 7 or even 3 degrees. y might be 1 mile, 1.5 miles 2 miles or if we look at the shortest only half a mile long. (Martinsville)
All these factors change the lap times of the cars, and more importantly their average speeds around the track. Now to make sure that the races do not go on for 5 or 6 hours the number of laps can be adjusted to try to make the races around the 3 hour mark but even with experience this can be hit and miss and as you can see in the table above there are plenty of races than go over that 3 hour magic number and some that even go over 4 hours of racing.
Length of Races
So NASCAR with better maths our average time for how many hours is a NASCAR race we are sure, Will put the average speeds and average lap times and try to make races around 3 hours long. There is round up or down of course as the Daytona 474 ( instead of Daytona 500) just isn’t as catchy so you will notice that races tend to round up to the nearest 5 ( occasionally one to be different)
However NASCAR themselves so have some rules they have to play by when it comes to Race length. As we mention here in our how long is a nascar race.
However these lap and mile requirements don’t seem to apply to the road courses which are often shorter, both on distance and time. However they do require as much if not more concentration to race on for that period of time. When we find out the reason we will put it here.
How Many Laps on Average in a NASCAR Race.
If a driver manages to complete an entire season, using 2021 as an example, of 36 races not including the All star and Clash or Duel races then they will have completed 9,290 laps during those 36 point scoring races. This works out as an average of 258 laps per cup series race. (*it is VERy unlikely a drier will have been crash and car trouble free for a whole season however)
This is also including the road courses which are much fewer laps but much longer to complete, take those out and for the overalls in would be approaching 300 as an average for a NASCAR race.
Now we mention Oval tracks as they are a lot shorter, and faster in lap times then roads courses, and it gives the opportunity to include more laps.
Now seeing as race distance can range from 112 on dirt to 600 miles on Asphalt and the average across the whole NASCAR Season, from the research we did and the answers in the table above, would be 350 miles a race.
So that same driver, if they had no car trouble or crashes would have been driving for 12601 miles to complete start to finish all races in a NASCAR season (2021 season at least)
Now Driving a Race Car for 350 miles ( on average) a race at the very limits of its performance is a risky business. Not only because of the speed and safety concerns which are real and ever present, but for the effect if has on the car. Things can, and invariably do go wrong and when they do so travelling at 200 miles an hour it can have quite an effect on the length of the race as we discuss on the next point.
Do Cautions and Crashes Add Time to a NASCAR Race?
Crashes when they happen are very likely to cause at the very least a yellow flag, or caution flag to come out which slows the cars down to basically pit lane speed. These can and do occur frequently throughout a race and while the lap count keeps counting down, (unless on the last lap) the laps are completed at as much as 3 times lower than racing speed and can add considerable time to a race length if the cautions are frequent, long lasting or the accident or debris takes a long time to clear up.
Even more impactful on the time a NASCAR race can take are red flags which require all drivers to stop in place immediately ( if safe to do so) , although these are rarer and more often used when the race is affected by (wet) weather – which we discuss below- they can happen in the case of large scale crashes ( the big one) where there is a danger to the drivers and their cars or if, hopefully not, there is a need for medical intervention on the track and can cause significant delays to racing adding time to the length of a NASCAR race.
Do Stages in NASCAR Make the Race Longer?
If you have watched any NASCAR Race since 2017 you will have noticed that each race is now split into 3 stages (or 4 stages if its the monstrously long Coca Cola 600) And while this is done to counter one long heard complaint about drivers getting too far ahead and NASCAR races being boring ( they aren’t but you know) It doesn’t help the length of the race any (which is another often heard complaint about them being to long as well)
Stages were introduced to bring the pack back together and basically created 3 races in 1 during the day, and although it is actually successful at this it has added to the time that a race takes to complete. You can read more about why NASCAr introduced stages to their races here.
After each stage drivers will slow down and prepare for the restart, and just like with accidents and yellow flags these periods are driven slower which all adds up to make a longer race, in time not miles of course.
Can Weather affect how Many Hours a NASCAR Race is?
Weather is a factor than can affect a NASCAR race at any time and has many times. Rain in particular on some tracks makes racing next to impossible and races have been delayed not just for hours but for days. The longest rain delay in NASCAR history is Incredibly over 2 weeks! (see below) . However fortunately for the drivers and the fans stuck in the rain these delays are thankfully rare.
Just to be aware though delays of an hour or two while the rain stops and tracks are dried out are more common than the pushing of the race to the following day ( or even 3 days later) and NASCAR tracks are not known for their shelters for fans, and unless you are in the grandstands or a box you will need to come prepared.
The table taken from our how long is a NASCAR race below shows how long a rain delay can potentially be! So don’t say you haven’t been warned!
What Are the longest Rain Delays in NASCAR
|Racetrack||Date||Length of Delay||Eventual Winner.|
|Bristol||March 11th, 1973||2 weeks||Carl Yarborough|
|Texas||October 25th, 2020||3 days||Kyle Busch|
|*Auto Club Speedway||February 24th, 2008||1 day||Carl Edwards|
|*Dover||May 1st, 2022||1 day||Chase Elliott|
|*Daytona||Feb 16th, 2020||1 day||Denny Hamlin|
What Motor Sport has Longer Races than NASCAR?
Although it may be that as a single event NASCAR has some of the longest car races in motor sport there are plenty that take longer so spare a thought for the following! While we don’t have the time it takes to complete some of them, we do have the length in miles so even if travelling at 200 miles an hour plus you can work out these are all significantly longer than a NASCAR race!
- Redex Australia Trials: 10,500 miles
- Dakar Rally: 3000 miles ( 5-600 miles stages)
- Around the world in 80 Days rally: 18,000 miles ( 3 months)
- 24 Hours of LeMans: 24 hours long race!
What Motor Sport has Shorter Races than NASCAR?
Just like there are extremes of time and distance in racing there are extremes at the other end as well. Below are some examples of motor racing that are Shorter as in the examples below.
- Formula 1: under 2 hours and at least 305km (190 miles)
- Drag Racing: 8 seconds and a quarter of a mile
- Rally Racing: Stages 1 to 25 miles long
So While NASCAR can take up to 4 hours to complete at least you get your monies worth!
The average length in time of a NASCAR Race, as we researched, is about 3 hours and 8 mins across the whole season. Even with Outliers all races will be longer than 2 hours unless stopped by rain or other weather and the longest was over 4 hours.
As we mentioned there are factors that can change this like on track accidents, stages, weather and track type but for the vast majority of NASCAR races are around 3 hours long. Which we think is just about right!
If you are watching your home it is a good afternoons entertainment, and if you are watching at the track it is an excellent full day out, just don’t forget to pack a raincoat just in case!