What is the Pole Position and Why Is It Called That?

The “pole position” (“pole”) is the position on the starting grid that will lead the field to a start, or to a re-start in the event of an interruption of competition. The term is a carryover from horse racing terminology, where the horse determined to be the fastest qualifier was placed in the inside position in the starting cage, next to the pole.

The pole position is generally considered to be the inside position of the first row of cars; however, NASCAR allows the pole winner (or the driver in first place at the time of a re-start) to select either the inside or outside position. Depending on the track, the condition of the racing surface, the set-up of the car, or a combination of these factors, the driver may judge the outside position to be a more competitive place to start or re-start the race.

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