Two of the most Popular motorsports in the world are NASCAR and IndyCar. Millions of fans watch both forms of motor racing all over the world, and in the USA they are the number 1 and 2 watched car racing series. Although there are fans of both IndyCar and NASCAR, it is more common to support or follow one over the other sports. Which asks the question, if fans have preference then what is the difference between Indycar and NASCAR?
IndyCar and NASCAR have a great number of differences. IndyCar’s open wheel racers at 1500 lbs are lighter and faster than a NASCSAR car at 3300 lbs. The differences in speed, safety, engines, technology, horsepower, and history make these motorsports, although classed as motor racing, very different.
Although there are main difference in terms of engines, speeds, races and tracks there are also numerous differences in history, skills, cars and racing styles as well. We take a look at these in more detail below.
Difference Between The Cars in NASCAR and Indycar.
The IndyCar Series is an open-wheel single-seater formula racing series. An open-wheel single-seater car has its wheels outside of the main body of the car, as well as only having one seat for the driver. The term formula, which was coined by the FIA after the Second World War, refers to the fact that the series uses open-wheel cars.
This is compared to the NASCAR Cup Series cars which are stock cars. In modern times, the term stock car refers to a car that is based on a mass-produced car. Nowadays they resemble family sedans. Unlike IndyCar, the wheels are contained within the main body of the car.
Which Car is Heaviest? Nascar or IndyCar
The IndyCar cars have chassis made by Dallara, who also supply chassis to Haas who are the only current American Formula One team. Without any fuel, liquids or a driver in the car, the cars weigh between 1,655 and 1,700 pounds depending on the type of circuit. They are at their heaviest on road courses.
Without a driver or any fuel, the NASCAR Race cars weigh 3,200 pounds, around double the weight of an IndyCar. The current cars are known as the ‘Generation 6’ cars, however the NExt Gen were introduced in 2022. They are enclosed and have a top speed of around 200 miles per hour. .
Do NASCAR or IndyCar Races Have More Drivers?
NAscar has more drivers in a race than Indy car. there can be 40 cars on a Racetrack during a NASCAR race, and IndyCar has 33 Cars. However both of these are much more than a Formula 1 Race which has 20 cars in a race.
NASCAR cars, as highlighted above are much much bigger machines that IndyCars. This means the track is much busier and congested, and passing is more difficult. It also means cars are often more likely to be driving in packs at high speed.
Is Contact Allowed in IndyCar Racing?
NASCAR Races are famous for their bump and scrapes, and sometimes resulting crashes. The cars are built to cope with being involved in a little muscling past or bumper to bumper racing.
Indy cars races so not allow any contact at all. They are designed to be light, be quick and not to be pushed around form the rear or sides. Open wheels, among many other reasons, make contact in IndyCar racing a very VERY bad idea.
How Many Points for a NASCAR and Indy Car Win?
Nascar Awards 40 Points for a win and can get additional points depends on the finishing position in the 2 stages. ( 3 stages in the Coca Cola 600) In Indy car a win will earn a driver 50 points, 40 for second and 35 for third. Also in Indycar points are awarded for pole position, (1point) Leading a lap (1 point) and most laps led (2 points.)
Which is Faster NASCAR or IndyCar?
IndyCar achieves faster speeds, by far, than NASCAR. IndyCar race race cars have been recorded at 241 miles an hour during races, and the highest speed achieved by an IndyCar is 257 miles an hour by Paul Tracy in 1996 at the Michigan International Speedway.
NASCAR top speeds are lower than this, even the record (official) is 212 miles an hour by Bill Elliot in 1987 ( more details here) and the unoffical is Rusty Wallace in 2004 when they went for an unrestricted run around Talladega and hit 228 miles an hour.
Formula 1 by comparison has a speed of 231 in a race by Valtteri Bottas, and accordign to the guinness worldrecords the top land speed ( on a salt flat in Utah) is help by Alan van der Merwe for Honda at 246.98 Miles an hour in 2006
Which is More Dangerous NASCAR or IndyCar?
The size of the race car and addition of roll cages makes the NASCAR a safer car, however the closeness of racing in NASCAR means crashes are more frequent and often include multiple cars. Although IndyCar can be faster the cars are more maneuverable and the ability to avoid trouble when it occurs is improved.
The open cockpit of IndyCar makes it more dangerous in high speed crashes where despite state of the art helmets there is no roll cage. The car is also smaller means there is simply less of it to absorb impact when a crash happens than a NASCAR.
Indy cars also go faster, more speed means less reaction time for drivers, On Ovals this is especially true. So although you are much more likely to see a crash in NASCAR the consequences of a crash in indycar can be much more severe.
According to research by flowracers there have been 96 fatalities in Indycar (since one form of the sport in 1916) and 28 in NASCAR, none since Dale EArnhardt in 2001, we have details of fatalities in NASCAR here. Statistically it means there is a 1% chance of a fatality in a NASCAR race, and a worrying 7% chance in an IndyCar race.
Which is More Popular NASCAR or Indycar?
NASCAR Racing is second only to football in terms of popularity in the the USA. Indycar in quite a way down these popularity rankings. A NASCAR race can attract over 10 million viewers during a big race like Daytona, where IndyCar brings in averages of 5.45 million. However large blue ribbon races like the Indy 500 can actually attract more fans to watch in person than even the Daytona 500.
There are a few reasons for this difference in popularity, NASCAR has a much longer season that IndyCar. NASCAR races for 40 races over 9 months a year and IndyCar for 17 races for 5 months a year.
IndyCar is also much younger sport, in its current form, when compared to NASCAR, which has been around in some form since the 1940s. IndyCar was started officially in 1996 and has already become the 4th most popular motorsport in the world.
Can IndyCar Drivers Race in NASCAR?
NASCAR teams sometimes hire temporary drivers, who are road course specialists, to race on the road courses. These drivers are known as road course ringers. However it is possible for drivers to change between the two forms of racing, in fact 14 drivers have won at the top levels of both sports. Most recently A..J. Allmendinger ( we will write a longer article on this to cover more details)
Indy car also has given NASCAR its most famous female driver, Danica Patrick, who has raced in both over the last decade.
However there is one feat we will go into here, that is the Double Duty Challenge.
What is the Double Duty Challenge In IndyCar and NASCAR?
The Double Duty, or Memorial day Double is a challenge that requires a race car driver to compete in the biggest Indycar and NASCAR races of the season. The Indianapolis 500, and one of the biggest (definitely the longest) NASCAR race of the season, the Coca Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
This incredibly difficult, both in terms of driving and planning, challenge has been attempted by four drivers, by Tony Stewart, John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch. Only Tony Stewart has managed to drive both races to completion in 2001.
We have a larger article on the Double Duty Challenge on the site.
How Did NASCAR and IndyCar Start?
The history behind these two popular motorsports could not be more different. NASCAR is a stock racing car racing series, although how stock the cars are in the modern era is questionable. Indy cars are built to go as fast as possible on a track.
NASCAR is based on the moonshine runs cars would try to make to transport alcohol into states during prohibition in the 1920s. This transportation did not, to our knowledge, require a race track, it required back roads, avoid police cars and, big difference here, transport alcohol.
Although there is not so much room in a NASCAR for crates of hooch now, there still considerably more than you would ever fit in an IndyCar!
IndyCar started as a racing series and continues as one to this day, no alcohol involved, though the history of the first Indianapolis for the Smithsonian research is a pretty cool read!
Does NASCAR or IndyCar Have More Horsepower?
NASCAR v8 Engines used to be 750 Horsepower but in the 2022 season the Next Gen car has been limited at 670 horsepower for most tracks. (around 500 for the Superspeedways). The engine in the new Next Gen also has the ability to run as a hybrid, though this is unlikely till 2024. The engines themselves are very capable of reaching up to 900 Horsepower though.
IndyCar is planning on moving up to 900 Horsepower in 2023 with hybrid V6 engines. The 2022 Season is the last season with the V6 550 to 700 Horsepower engines.
Racing Strategies: NASCAR Vs. IndyCar.
As mentioned below NASCAR racing has a focus, although shifting, on oval tracks with some Road tracks for many reasons.
IndyCar focuses, now, on Road tracks with some ovals. This means that although there are many similar skills and strategies these two types of tracks share, there are some that are more relevant on each.
Pack Racing and Drafting: Oval racing, in NASCAR, features a lot of Pack racing and drafting strategies. In indy car being too close to the car in front will cause overheating issues over time. Drafting is used to slingshot, not to burn up laps.
Push to pass: This feature, in Formula 1 as well, Allows drivers a 10 use power boost to help with overtaking. Nascar doesn’t focus on technology in the drivers hands as much as open wheel racing
Contact: We mention this above, but NASCAR has contact, often, Indycar doesn’t all all.
Braking and Cornering: Although it is a myth that drivers in nascar dont use the brakes (see here) in IndyCar with the majority of road races use of braking and acceleration handling are more important.
Are Pit Stops the Same in NASCAR and Indycar?
In NASCAR, only six mechanics are allowed to work on the car during a pit stop. When the cars stop for four new tires and fuel, the stop last for between 12 and 16 seconds. This time can be just five to seven seconds when only two tires and fuel are needed.
The pit crew team features one jackman, who lifts the car. There are also two tire changers, who have to unscrew the five lug nuts. There is a gas man, who puts fuel into the car, and two tire carriers.
In IndyCar, the same amount of six mechanics are allowed to work on the car during the stops. A mechanic at the rear of the car first inserts an air hose to active the car’s built-in pneumatic jacks, which lift the car. The four tire changers then take off the old tires and place the new ones on, as well as adjusting the angles on the front wing and removing any debris.
The gas man fills fuel into the car throughout the stop. Before the car leaves the pit lane it is also sprayed with water, which dilutes the fuel to ensure that the car doesn’t catch fire during the rest of the race.
Are IndyCar and NASCAR Made of the Same Materials?
As we mentioned above IndyCar and Nascar are very different cars. Indy cars weigh less than half the weight of a NASCAR race car and although some of this is due to size, it is also the construction materials that reduce the weight of an IndyCar.
IndyCar’s are constructed with a carbon fibre and kevlar chassis, where NASCARs, staying true to stock roots, are constructed of steel. Also the V8 engine in a NASCAR weighs considerably more than the V6 of an IndyCar.
What is NASCAR and IndyCar’s Biggest Race?
The NASCAR Cup Series started in 1949, and it was Strictly Stock, meaning that unmodified production cars had to be used. The first season featured just eight races, with seven on dirt ovals and one on the Daytona Beach street course. NASCAR’s most famous and prestigious race is the Daytona 500.
The race is 500 miles long, and it is raced over 200 laps of the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The first edition of the Daytona 500 was run in 1959, and it was won by Lee Petty. Petty won the famous race seven times in his career. It is also known as “The Great American Race” and the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing”.
The NTT IndyCar Series, in its current guise, has been run since 1996. It was founded as the Indy Racing League, as a rival to the CART series which ceased to exist in 2003. The first season of IndyCar only featured three races, which due to the lack of a tiebreak rule meant that the title was shared between two drivers, Buzz Calkins and Scott Sharp.
The third and final race of the first season was the Indy 500, which is IndyCar’s most famous race, and their equivalent of the Daytona 500. The first IndyCar Series edition of the Indy 500 was the 80th overall Indy 500.
The Indy 500 was established before the IndyCar Series. The Indy 500 is a 500-mile race held over 200 laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana.
The first Indy 500 was held over 100 years ago, in 1911, and it was won by Ray Harroun. Since the turn of the century, only Helio Castroneves has won the race in consecutive years.
Do NASCAR and Indycar Use the Same Tracks?
The IndyCar Series races on ovals, road courses and street courses. Traditionally, IndyCar raced the majority of its races on ovals, but in recent years the majority of races are held on street and road courses. The 2022 IndyCar Series schedule features just three oval circuits, one of which is the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Series also race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, which was previously used by Formula One. IndyCar’s also race on street circuits due to the cars’ relatively small size. The street races include the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
16 of the 17 races are held in different states, with California being the only state with two races, at Laguna Seca and the Long Beach Street circuit. Other than the USA, IndyCar has hosted races in Canada, Japan, Australia and Brazil. IndyCar can race on street and road circuits in rain, but not the ovals.
NASCAR uses ovals, as well as road courses. However, they no longer have any street races due to the size of the cars. The competitive season opens with the Daytona 500, which is held on a tri-oval. The majority of the NASCAR Cup Series races are held on ovals, but they also use world-class road circuits such as the Circuit of the Americas, which is also currently used by Formula One.
The 2022 schedule also features a dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR doesn’t race during rain on the ovals, but they have raced in rain on the road courses.
We have the main differences highlighted between NASCAR and IndyCar above, Indy cars are a lighter, smaller open wheeled form of racing while NASCAR bases its sell of commercially available versions of manufactured cars and the differences don;t stop there:
The history of racing for racings sake of IndyCar, to the flying down a background with bottles of Moonshine of NASCAR. The speeds they can achieve, how much they crash and hit each other, and the dangers, or chance of danger in each sport is very different.
It might be easier to list what NASCAR and IndyCar have in common, which is 4 wheels, a steering wheel and a driver, but, with the exception of the driver on occasion….even these are different.
One thing we didn’t mentioned, and probably cos you can work it out on your own. IndyCar and NASCAR…. well they look very different as well .