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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oval Racing Strategies

John B. Marine | 7:42 PM |
Oval racing is boring to most people. Understandably so, since you only turn in one direction. However, it is not easy. Oval racing requires you to race at persistent high speeds and maintaining those speeds consistently. While it may seem boring to only turn in one direction, the challenge and the intrigue are there. The most important thing to learn is how to properly race an oval. This blog post offers a few thoughts in that perspective.

NOTE: The advice offered in this blog post is NOT professional. I am sure I will screw something up. I am more into road racing than I am almost any other discipline of motorsport. I am no oval expert, so don't entirely take the advice here for gospel.

Oval Racing Basics.

The key to oval racing is the ability to run at high speeds consistently. One such strategy is to try to find speed while also cutting down on wind resistance. In the case of racing ovals, you have to properly find the right braking points so you don't have to lift too much on a lot of ovals.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that not all ovals are the same. Sure, you go in one direction, but not every oval is the same. You can look at any number of ovals for some differences in layout. Shorter ovals employ different strategies than larger ovals. There is an apples and oranges difference between racing the likes of Martinsville and Talladega. In terms of layout, Racing Pocono is much different from racing Charlotte. There are about four different kinds of ovals: short tracks, one-mile ovals, intermediate/speedway ovals, and superspeedway ovals. Some tracks may have low banking in the corners while others may have high banks. You have paper clip ovals, egg-shaped ovals, tri-ovals, D-shaped ovals, and the like. You may even have to shift at some ovals. For example, the shorter corners at Gateway International Raceway and Twin Ring Motegi's oval may require you to downshift a bit since they are more like road course corners than more traditional ovals. Pocono is a tri-oval, but each corner is different. Meanwhile, you have superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega. Daytona, to me, is more of a "driver's superspeedway" than Talladega. Talladega is a high speed romp all the way around except for a little bit of lifting off the throttle at points. So while ovals may seem the same, the strategies in taking them all on are different.

There are also dirt ovals that are very short. When racing on a dirt oval, you have to consider being able to get aggressive handling and aggressive at speed. Dirt encourages you to race a bit harder and more aggressively than on tarmac ovals. A fun part of dirt oval racing is the ability to slide the car out in the corners hard. You need to be aggressive to properly maintain a decent speed in the corners and being able to power out effectively. The kind of vehicle you race in a dirt oval race also depends on what you can and can't do.

Just like any form of racing, you also need to consider setting up your car for ovals. Shorter ovals will require you to have more of an acceleration setup (as opposed to a top speed setup) since you are trying to generate as much speed as possible on such short courses. You also need a decent brake setup since you will have to lift a lot on shorter ovals. It also helps to have a decent handling setup. Conversely on longer ovals, you will need more of a top speed setup especially on courses where you will be at high speeds constantly. Superspeedway type ovals won't require you to have any detailed handling setup. You do, however, want a setup where you don't have a suspension setup better suited for road courses or anything. So something where you don't have to set up for really hard corners will suffice for longer and faster ovals. Aerodynamic tuning also plays a significant role in oval racing. You have to consider an aero setup that either allows for low wind resistance or better control depending on the oval.

Oval Racing: Final Thoughts.

While oval racing may not be as liked by many a racing fan, oval racing isn't "stupid." Oval racing just takes on some tactics different from your average road racing or rally racing. You just need to focus on proper racing technique when on an oval as well as properly tuning for oval racing. Having said all of this, race on! :)

This wasn't entirely professional advice, but at least it should help you racing gamers out there in regards to ovals. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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