How Well Do You Know Your NASCAR Slang?


By: J. Reinoehl

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki commons

About This Quiz

Do you know the difference between drafting and drag at the race track? Can you tell a spoiler from a splitter or a short pit from a wave around? If you know the answers to these questions, start your engines - and see if you have what it takes to earn a perfect score on this NASCAR slang quiz!

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing hosted its first race in Daytona, Florida on February 15, 1948. Eleven years later, 41,000 race fans showed up to watch the first Indianapolis 500. By the 21st century, NASCAR had become a multi-billion dollar industry, with millions of fans watching on TV and at racing venues around the world. 

While there's plenty of diversity among NASCAR participants these days, there's one thing everything involved in this sport has in common - speed! From drivers who put the pedal to the metal at 200 miles per hour or more, to the pit crews that can service a vehicle in 12 seconds flat, there's nothing about this sport that's slow, and that includes the lingo. 

At the track racers, announcers and pit crews have their very own language that allows them to keep moving at top speed and keep cars in tip-top condition. Think you can decipher this NASCAR lingo? Take our quiz to find out!

What does “AERO” mean?

“In NASCAR, you don’t have to be as physically strong as in some other forms of racing. You’ve just got to be able to endure the heat and endurance of it.” –Jeff Gordon


What does “marbles” mean?

“Marbles” are pieces of tire rubber that build up in the turns of a track. Marbles reduce traction so drivers will weave from side to side to get them off their tires.


What is a “restrictor plate?”

The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car. It’s the one who refuses to lose.” –Dale Earnhardt, Jr.


What does “spoiler” mean?

The spoiler is a metal blade attached to the rear of the car. It helps press the rear of the car into the track and gives the rear wheels more traction.


Which of the following means “lucky dog”?

The “lucky dog” is the guy who gets a free pass. When a caution is called, the first lapped driver gets a lap back.


What does “blown motor” mean?

When a driver pushes his engine to the point of major engine failure, such as when there is a piston rod that goes through the main engine block, it is said he has “blown his engine.” Usually these cars have a lot of smoke and steam coming out of their hood.


What does “downforce” stand for?

“I’d say [success in NASCAR] is probably 50% car, 30% driver, and 20% luck. When it comes to driving, if the driver doesn’t do his part, then it’s just kind of like multiplying a negative times a positive: The end result is going to be negative.” –John Wes Townley


What does “banking” mean?

Banking is the slope of a racetrack from the apron to the outside wall (especially at a curve or corner). The degree of banking is the height of a track’s slope at its outside edge.


What does “aero push” mean?

“If you don’t cheat, you look like an idiot; if you cheat and don’t get caught, you look like a hero; if you cheat and get caught, you look like a dope. Put me where I belong.” –Darrell Waltrip


What does “track bar” mean?

This lateral bar assembly can be raised or lowered to affect how the car corners. In 2015, NASCAR allowed the controls to be placed where the driver can adjust them during the race.


Which of the following is the resistance a car experiences as it goes through the air?

“I think when you look at our team, you have to say that the weak point is probably still the driver.” –Tony Stewart


What does “drafting” mean?

Drafting is when two or more cars run nose to tail, almost touching each other. The lead car displaces the air in front of it and creates a vacuum between it and the following car.


What does “interval” mean?

“Why did I take up racing? I was too lazy to work and too chicken to steal.” –Kyle Petty


What does “tight” mean?

The term “tight” is used to describe a car that has difficulty turning, usually requiring the driver let off the gas. Officially, it is when the front tires of a racecar lose traction before the rear ones.


Which of the following is sheet metal on both sides of the car below the deck lid but above the wheel well from the C-post to rear bumper?

“Finishing races is important, but racing is more important.” –Dale Earnhardt


What does “200 mph tape” mean?

Racer’s tape is sometimes called “200 mph tape.” It is special duct tape designed to hold a beat-up car together until the end of the race.


Which of the following means a pass that allows you access to the pit even during the race?

“Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.” –Caroline Baum


What is a “SAFER Barrier?”

NASCAR engineers designed the Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier as a method of absorbing impacts in a way that better protects drivers who crash into them. Fused steel tubes are connected to the concrete wall with foam spacers to absorb the energy of a wreck and lessen car damage and personal injuries.


What does “dirty air” mean?

“When a car's ahead of you, as long as you can see it, you get a tow, just like the draft in NASCAR. Even if it's a long ways down the track, it punches a hole in the air that has to help. When you're running alone, you can feel the difference, and it shows on the clock, too.” –Mario Andretti


What does “loose” mean?

Describes a car’s back end wiggling and losing traction when entering or exiting a corner creating a “fishtail” effect. It is also called “oversteer.”


What does “happy hour” mean?

“To be sure, [NASCAR] stars were initially ex-bootleggers for the most part drawn from that talent pool in the Carolinas hills: ‘good ol' boys’ as they referred to themselves. That's exactly how they would be described in the press that slowly became enamored with their raucous life style. That has all changed, with the drivers of today polished and clean-cut athletes who are expected to behave like commercial puppets in public.” –Brock Yates


What does "camber” mean?

Camber refers to how many degrees a tire is slanted outward (positive) or inward (negative) as opposed to being perpendicular to the track. Some racetracks may require a single racecar to have positive and negative cambered tires.


What does “groove” mean?

“Dale Earnhardt was the best race car driver there will ever be in NASCAR. I would hope you don't expect me to replace him because nobody ever will.” –Kevin Harvick


What does “short pit” mean?

The strategy of pitting well before running out of fuel, getting fresh tires to make up time on the leaders and theoretically taking the lead once those lead cars need to pit. Short pitting puts a car on an alternate pit cycle and could be beneficial or not depending in part upon how cautions fall the rest of the race.


Which of the following is “a metal piece that limits the air entering the engine cylinder”?

“My dad knew that if I wanted to make a career out of it, I needed to go to NASCAR rather than dirt racing. Personally, I like dirt racing a little bit more. It's a little more fun.” –Tanner Berryhill


What does “side drafting” mean?

When one car pulls alongside another car, the air flow from that car's nose flows into the spoiler of the other car. This causes the other car to slow down and the side-drafting car can pull forward.


What is a “splitter?”

“I was very against pink and purple when I was young, because they were girls' colors, but that was only because I didn't want people to write me off for what I can do. When I got into my 20s, I decided that was stupid.” –Danica Patrick


What does “round” mean?

To adjust the chassis, a member of the pit crew uses a wrench to tighten or loosen a jack bolt that adjusts the play in the spring. This affects the way the racecar handles.


What does “pole position” mean?

“My grandfather is the King; my dad is the Prince. I guess that makes me the butler.” –Adam Petty


Which of the following is when one car steers around a lead car and breaks the vacuum?

A slingshot is when a car following the leader in a draft suddenly steers around it. This breaks the vacuum and gives the following car an extra burst of speed that propels it into the lead.


What does “stagger” mean?

“His wife wears the firesuit in that family and tells him what to do.” –Joey Logano talking about Kevin Harvick


What does “splash ‘n go” mean?

To “splash ‘n go” or to “gas ‘n go” means a driver took a quick pit stop for gas only, usually to fill it with enough gas to get through the end of the race. No other work is done to the car.


When does a “green-white-checkered finish” mean?

“Our fans would never waste good beer by pouring it on us.” –Jeff Gordon comparing NASCAR fans to NBA fans NASCAR’s version of overtime, which allows up to three attempts at two-lap shootout finishes so that races don’t end under caution.


What does “chrome horn” mean?

Racecars don’t have horns, so they use their bumpers to let someone know he’s in the way. Although the bumpers are not really made out of chrome, this practice is still called using a “chrome horn.”


Which of the following means “to nudge the lead car in a line of tailgating racecars?”

"I got in the ambulance and looked back over there and I said, 'Man, the wheels ain't knocked off that car yet. Get out. I gotta go.'" –Dale Earnhardt


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