How Fast Do NASCAR Drivers Go?

By James B. Jones

Professional stock car racing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Each week, countless drivers put life and limb at risk, all in the name of driving fast and entertaining millions of racing fans around the world. The elite of stock car racing eventually find their way to NASCAR, where the cars are faster and the price of failure is much higher than the dirt track back home. The size and layout of the track has a large effect on how fast a NASCAR driver can push his ride.

Road Course Speeds

Road courses are some of the trickiest tracks to master in all of motorsports. Because of their many twists and turns, most NASCAR drivers are unable to get their cars up to more than 75 to 85 miles per hour (MPH).

Short Track Speeds

Tracks like Bristol Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway, because of their small but relatively straight dimensions, usually see speeds of around 115 to 120 MPH.

Speedway Speeds

Most NASCAR tracks are 1 1/2-mile oval tracks. These are referred to as "speedways" and usually see track speeds topping out at or near 190 MPH. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the lone exception, due to its longer backstretch than most 1 1/2-mile tracks, and has occasionally seen speeds pushing 200 MPH.

Superspeedway Speeds

Superspeedways are the largest tracks in NASCAR. A minimum of two miles long, speeds regularly top off at close to 200 MPH. Certain tracks, like Daytona and Talladega, require the use of restrictor-plates to keep drivers from topping 210 MPH, which would be dangerous to both the driver and the spectators.

Fastest NASCAR Driver Speed

In 1987, NASCAR veteran driver and fan favorite Bill Elliot set a NASCAR speed record, topping out at 212.809 MPH during qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway. It wasn't long after that, following an accident involving NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, that restrictor plates were implemented, thus ensuring that this speed benchmark will never be challenged.

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