Only six races remain in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. After the demolition derby, which was the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Super Speedway, all 12 drivers still have a chance at the championship.
Talladega may have been the toughest track in the Chase, but the drivers will face some difficult tracks in the final weeks of the season. Half of the tracks remaining are 1.5-mile “cookie cutter” tracks. Although the tracks are called “cookie cutter” because of the similar size, no two tracks are the same.
Here is a list of the toughest tracks remaining on the 2012 schedule.
The last race of the 2012 season will be the easiest on the schedule.
By the time the cars line up for NASCAR’s season finale, most of the field will already be eliminated from the championship. Most of the field will be logging laps and trying to stay out of the way of the drivers who remain in contention for the title.
If there were more pressure on drivers to win the race in Homestead, the speedway would be higher on the list.
The top drivers in the Chase at Homestead are Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth.
Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the last night race on the NASCAR schedule.
Charlotte is only No. 5 on the list, because the drivers have so many chances to race on the track throughout the season. The only track that has more races then Charlotte during the NASCAR season is Daytona.
NASCAR drivers get 600-miles to figure out Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial weekend and in the Sprint Cup All-Star Race the weekend before. With so much time spent at one track, most crew chiefs unload cars with a good setup in them.
The toughest part of the race at Charlotte is calculating the fuel mileage. Most of the races at Charlotte come down to fuel mileage, so the drivers who can get the most miles out of a tank of fuel, usually win the race.
The top drivers in the Chase at Charlotte are Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin.
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first started racing at Texas Motor Speedway it was one of the toughest tracks on the circuit. There were problems with water coming up from beneath the track and the drivers had a hard time figuring out the best way to get around the 1.5-mile track.
Texas is one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. Most drivers like a track with character and Texas Motor Speedway fits the bill.
Texas has bumps that drivers most avoid to maintain their speed in the race. Turn two is one of the hardest turns to navigate in NASCAR. Unlike other 1.5-mile tracks, the corner flattens out quickly, causing the drivers to adjust their speed.
The top drivers in the Chase at Texas are Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
Martinsville Speedway is a tough track to get around, but most drivers can figure it out quickly. Martinsville is similar to the size of racetrack that most drivers raced on early in the driving careers.
The paperclip half-mile track races more like a road course than an oval track. Drivers must be able to save their breaks and roll through the corners to be successful at the track. Most drivers either have a lot of success at Martinsville or struggle at the track.
Phoenix International Raceway is a one mile flat racetrack. Flat tracks are difficult for most NASCAR drivers and the newly paved surface does not make it any easier.
Since Phoenix International Raceway was repaved, the cars go faster, creating more problems with the brakes. Whenever a track is repaved, it takes time for racing grooves to be created. Phoenix is a hard track to pass on, so qualifying is more important at Phoenix than at other tracks.
The top drivers in the Chase at Phoenix are Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon.
When fans think of Kansas Speedway, they usually do not think of the toughest track on the circuit. For this list, it is the toughest track.
What makes Kansas so difficult in the Chase this year is the new pavement. Crew chiefs will not know what to expect when they show up at the track on October 21st.
Kansas Speedway will only have one preferred groove to race on, which will make passing difficult. Pit strategy will be very important in the race at Kansas Speedway this year. Many teams will select two tires over four because of the new surface.
Most of the races at Kansas Speedway have come down to fuel strategy. Saving fuel will just add to the difficulty of the race at Kansas.
The top drivers in the Chase at Kansas are Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Greg Biffle.
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