Are NASCAR drivers really athletes?
It's a question that's divided people for quite some time. But thanks to some research by Jamie McMurray, the debate may finally come to an end.
McMurray, who currently sits at 7th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, is a cycling enthusiast in addition to being a driver. As such, he decided to compare the amount of energy he expended during a cycling race to the amount of energy he expended during a NASCAR race.
The cycling race was "The Assault on Mt. Mitchell"—a 102.7-mile ride with an 11,000-foot elevation climb from Spartanburg, South Carolina to Mt. Mitchell State Park in North Carolina. The NASCAR race was the Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
McMurray tweeted out his findings and analysis earlier this week:
It took McMurray 5:54:23 to complete the Assault on Mt. Mitchell. He averaged a heart rate of 146 beats per minute during that time. He also finished 22nd out of over 500 riders and claims he was "pushing as hard as possible during the event."
It took McMurray 3:23:12 to complete the Overton's 301. He averaged a heart rate of 144 beats per minute during that time and the average temperature inside the car was 108 degrees fahrenheit.
So the amount of stress on McMurray's body during these two events was quite similar. While he completed the Overton's 301 in a shorter amount of time, other NASCAR races require McMurray to be in the car for significantly longer. For example, the Coca-Cola 600 covers a total distance of 600 miles compared to the Overton's total distance of 318.45 miles.
"I always find it hard to explain to fans that the heat inside the car is the biggest challenge we face. In Loudon, the average (temperature) for the race was 108 (degrees) but was up to 115 (degrees)," McMurray writes in his tweet. "I hope this puts a perspective on what our bodies are going through during a race."