5 Top Tips to Help You Win The 2022 iRacing Daytona 500

Updated: Feb 20

First time running the Great American Race in iRacing? Here are 5 things you need to look out for if you want to finish well in Daytona.

Daytona International Speedway in iRacing Simulator
Daytona International Speedway in iRacing

Do you smell that? No, I'm not the Rock, and this isn't the Super Bowl - I'm talking two things, Sunoco Green E15 98 Octane racing fuel, and sweat.

That's right, Daytona week is upon us, and that means big speed, big wrecks, and big expectations for the debut of the Next-Gen NASCAR Cup cars. Daytona International Speedway will play host to the first superspeedway race of the next-gen era, both in the real world and in iRacing (and both this weekend). Before you hit the track (and everyone else in the process), take a look at this guide at what to do and what not to do during your race at Daytona.

Do: Take it slow.

500 miles is a long race, with the leaders running 200 laps of the 2.5mi tri-oval (the second biggest super speedway behind Talladega), there's plenty of time for a wreck. Everyone knows Daytona is the perfect storm for "the big one", and with the next-gen cars (and everyone trying to learn them at once), large-pack wrecks and full-course cautions will happen. Try to give yourself room to react and don't try to win the race all at once, you've got plenty of time to race, and a damaged car will be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

NASCAR Next Gen Lineup
NASCAR's Next-Gen Lineup: Camaro, Camry, and Mustang

Don't: Pit alone. Ever.

Drafting is the name of the game in oval racing - and staying in a pack that's racing clean, generating draft for each other (and bump drafting, more on that later) is the key to having a shot at the Top 10. Once you're running with a pack, try to negotiate with those around you to plan your pit stops as a group. They want to stay in the draft too, and this can be the difference between running one lap up, or one lap down.

Do: Lift in the draft.

Speaking of drafting and running as a pack - actively managing your speed (especially when closing in on the car in front: in oval racing, we call this "closing speed") will be crucial to maintaining good pack racing. And like we said before, good pack racing is the key to running fast, consistent laps. You will have to lift slightly when running in another car's draft, but a benefit of this will be that you'll save fuel.

Don't: Slow down for pit stops before getting on the apron.

We've already seen some crashes here from the early time slots. When you're racing (under full-speed, green flag conditions) DO NOT lift off the gas to slow for the pits before you dive down onto the apron. Always get on the apron first, then slow (even if it means getting low earlier). Others might not be expecting your sudden drop in speed, and it's an easy way to wreck.

NASCAR bump drafting
A 6th-gen NASCAR executing an effective bump draft

Do: Get good at the bump draft.

What is a bump draft you may ask? In oval racing, a bump draft is when a drafting car (behind) gains momentum on the car in front and uses its front bumper to carefully push the rear of the front car, hence the name "bump". When executed safely and properly, a bump draft can be a key part of the drafting strategy, speeding up the car in front while continuing to provide draft for the car behind. Some tips for bump drafting:

  • Make sure the car in front (or behind) is 100% squarely in line with your car

  • Keep both cars stable

  • Be predictable

  • Don't take too much speed into it

  • In general, don't bump draft in corners

BONUS: Join our iRacing Discord for a competitive edge.

Did you know our iRacing Discord members have access to detailed pre-race analysis for every special iRacing event? In addition to community, you'll find answers to almost any question you may have about the 2022 iRacing Daytona 500 - much more than you'll find in this article. Click the link below to join!

-> Join our iRacing Discord Click here.

-> Don't have iRacing? Click here.


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