SCIENCE OF SPEED: MOMENTUM AND TIME

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Increasing the time of a collision from a tenth of a second to two tenths of a second can make a huge difference in the number of G's a driver experiences. The car, the track, seat belts, and seat construction spread out the force of impact and save lives.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: TURNING

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Anyone can go fast straight: The challenge is turning. It takes more than ten thousand pounds of force to get a racecar around Turn 3 at Texas Motor Speedway at 180 mph. All that force comes from four tiny patches of rubber--the only thing keeping the car on the track and out of the wall.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: TIRES AND PRESSURE

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NASCAR tires don't have "air pressure" because they're filled with nitrogen. The culprit responsible for increasing tire pressure during a race is friction. Using dry nitrogen gas helps the team predict how hot the tire will get and how much the pressure will "build" during a race.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: POWER

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850 horses all lined up--that's how much power a NASCAR Sprint Cup engine has. The engine's job is to convert the energy in fuel to speed. NASCAR engines do it faster and more efficiently than passenger car engines.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: LOAD TRANSFER

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NASCAR corners are divided into three parts because the car's grip changes in different parts of a turn. The higher center of gravity in the new car challenges crew chiefs to minimize weight shift around a turn. Equipment like the seven-post rig helps, but the ultimate test is on the track.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: FIRESUITS

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"Frightening" is how Jeff Gordon describes fire, even though he knows he's protected head to toe (and right down to his underwear) by fire-resistant Nomex fabric. Firesuits and the associated gear don't just protect drivers from fire, though--they decrease the rate of heat transfer, giving the driver a little more time to move somewhere cooler.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: BALANCE

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A racecar driver is like Goldilocks: The car always seems to be too loose or too tight. Getting the right balance is hard because the weight of the fuel changes and the tires wear during each green-flag run. Understanding the science is how crew chiefs make the car “just right”.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: SOUND

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"Loud is fast" Brian Vickers tells us, and speed is one reason racecars don't have mufflers. Experiencing a NASCAR race means feeling the roar of the engines as well as hearing them. It's all good--as long as you’ve got your ear protection.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: GRIP

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There's one thing every driver always want more of: Grip. Grip is the frictional force that holds the tires on the track, but crew chiefs like Steve Letarte describe it as a 'warm and fuzzy feeling' when you have it. Whether mechanical or aerodynamic, more is always better.

SCIENCE OF SPEED: FRICTION AND HEAT

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Friction always creates heat. Brakes and tires depend on friction to work, but more friction isn’t always better. In the engine, friction is never good and engine builders use everything from oil to high-tech coatings to get a little extra horsepower.