With the start of the 2016 NASCAR season only a few weeks away, I started thinking about all the great things that could unfold during the upcoming season.
The possibilities are limitless and thinking about all that could happen is bound to make fans across the country giddy. Through the course of thinking about all that could happen, I was stopped mid-daydream by a colleague who proposed an intriguing question that I hadn’t really considered (at least not seriously): “What records do you think might be broken in 2016?”
After mulling this over in my mind a few minutes, I named one or two suggestions, but then something happened … something that often happens when my mind starts racing at 200 mph in all kinds of directions.
I was distracted. I was no longer thinking about the answer to the question put forth, but instead I was pondering the answers to an alternate question that popped into my head.
The new question was “What are NASCAR’s Unbreakable Records?” Records we likely won’t see broken in 2016 or in the future, for that matter.
I started going over all the records in my mind, trying to determine if something was fortified in stone or if it could possibly fall at some time in the future. I landed on five records that I would be surprised to see fall any time soon, but who knows this is NASCAR and with the world we live in today, anything is bound to happen, no matter how unnatural it may seem.
After reading my five locks for NASCAR records that are untouchable, let us know what you think and if there are any other records you think will last the test of time.
1. MOST CAREER WINS
With 200 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Richard Petty will hold this untouchable record forever. The closest driver is David Pearson with 105. Jimmie Johnson holds the highest total of wins among active drivers, but he would have to average 12.5 wins over the next 10 years to even have a shot at tying the record. For as good as Johnson is, he’s not going to average that many wins over a 10-year period and who’s to say he even drives for 10 more seasons.
2. MOST WINS IN A SEASON
Petty was in another galaxy during the 1967 season when compared to the rest of the field. How else can you explain 27 wins in one season. There are tons of drivers who would love to have that many wins in their career, let alone one season. To drive home this point even further, only 27 drivers in NASCAR’s 67-year history have 27 wins in their entire NASCAR Sprint Cup career. Petty has also holds the second-most wins in one season with 21. He’s tied for third with Tim Flock with 18 wins apiece in a season. Johnson is the only person since 1998 to even hit double-digit wins and he only got to 10 back in 2007.
3. MOST CONSECUTIVE RACE WINS
By now you should realize that Petty is the “King” of setting records, and that’s why the nickname is so appropriate. Of course, he also holds the record for the most consecutive wins and that came during that magical 1967 season. The win streak began on August 12 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., and lasted until October 1 when he won his 10th consecutive race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. In between, he won at the following tracks: Columbia (S.C.) Speedway, Savannah (Ga.) Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Hickory (N.C.) Speedway, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Beltsville (Md.) Speedway, Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C. and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The second-longest streak of consecutive wins (six) also belongs to Petty during the 1971 season. Bobby Allison is third with five consecutive wins, also coming during the 1971 season.
4. MOST POLES IN A SEASON
Petty isn’t the only driver capable of setting some amazing records. In 1969, Bobby Isaac made sure he was in a good place to win many races by capturing 19 poles that season — a feat no other driver has come close to since. The closest to hit this mark since 1969 was Cale Yarborough in 1980 with 14. Of course, no mention of an unbreakable record would be complete without a mention of Petty. Petty (1967) and Flock (1955) are tied for second with 18 poles apiece. The 19 poles put Isaac in great position to win many races; he won a career-high 17 races in 1969, 11 of them from the pole.
5. FASTEST QUALIFYING SPEED
Over the past several years, drivers have approached speeds of 218 mph during test sessions at Michigan International Speedway. Fortunately for the drivers, NASCAR made changes to the cars and the qualifying speeds, while fast, weren’t this fast. To find the fastest qualifying speed in NASCAR Sprint Cup history, we have to go back to 1987. On April 30, 1987, the drivers were taking turns qualifying for the Winston 500 when Bill Elliott hit the track in his No. 9 Coors Ford. What fans didn’t realize when Elliott pulled onto the track to qualify is that they were witnessing history. He went on to lay down a blistering qualifying speed of 212.809 mph. Unfortunately, a good starting position doesn’t always mean a good finishing position; Elliott finished the race 22nd. The following year, NASCAR started mandating restrictor plates in the race cars at Talladega and Daytona. Elliott also holds the second-fastest qualifying speed. He posted a speed of 210.364 mph earlier that season in qualifying for the Daytona 500.