Which is the fastest NASCAR car in the history of the sport?

Which is the fastest NASCAR car in the history of the sport?

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:14 PM

NASCAR is the second most popular motorsport series after Formula One and the top-watched in the United States of America. Over the years, the series has produced many legendary drivers and incredibly fast cars. The fastest NASCAR car in history recorded a remarkable speed that remains unmatched for 30 years.

Fastest NASCAR car in the world
Bill Elliott and his Thunderbird cross the finish line to take the checkered flag in February 1987. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

People love motorsport for many reasons, including the high level of excitement, high speed, and the fantastic view of racing cars. The atmosphere, buzz, and drivers' experiences make it an interesting sport. So, in what year did NASCAR have the fastest cars? First, let us understand the origin of the popular car race.


The motorsport series was founded in 1948 in Daytona Beach, Fla, USA. NASCAR stands for The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. One of the earliest cars in the series was the 1939 Ford Coupe, released during pre-World War II. Over the years, more cars have been produced with slight modifications to suit various needs.

In 2022, they unveiled the NextGen cars, designed to be symmetrical. Their wheels range from 15 inches to 18 inches. They have aluminium and feature a single-lug nut.

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What year did NASCAR have the fastest cars?
Manufacturers display their vehicles during the unveiling of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow at Talladega Superspeedway on 31st October 2009, in Talladega, Alabama. Photo: Todd Warshaw
Source: Getty Images

The popular car race has three manufacturers who produce cars for the series. They are Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet. Each of them usually submits their engine designs to the American auto racing company for approval.

What is the fastest a NASCAR car has gone?

Bill Elliott's Ford Thunderbird is the fastest NASCAR car of all time. Elliot reached 212.809 MPH (342.483 km/h) while qualifying at Talladega in 1987 and won the pole. The legendary driver broke his previous record of 210.364 mph during the Daytona 500 motor race.

Fastest NASCAR car of all time
Bill Elliott (L), poses after setting the fastest lap in the series history, ran 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway on 30th April 1987, in Talladega, Alabama. Photo: ISC Archives
Source: Getty Images

Elliott's 1987 Ford Thunderbird car had a tube frame weighing 3700 pounds, and a 351 cubic inch Ford V8 made 625 horsepower. Elliot began the race at Talladega in the pole position. However, Bobby Allison's car engine exploded during the 22nd lap, scattering debris that cut his rear tire. Allison's car nearly flew into the crowd but shed parts and pieces that injured several fans.

How fast do NASCAR cars go?

Following Bobby Allison's incident, the auto racing company introduced restrictor plates to their cars to limit horsepower and slow speeds. As a result, the average top speed of a NASCAR car is around 200mph (321km/h). Only 15 pole-winners have managed the 200 mph speed range since the adjustments.

Fastest NASCAR car in 2022

Fastest NASCAR car in 2022
Bubba Wallace of the #23 McDonald's Toyota celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway on 6th August 2022, in Brooklyn, Michigan. Photo: Mike Mulholland
Source: Getty Images

Bubba Wallace notched the fastest qualifying lap of the year at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on 6 August 2022. Wallace averaged 190.703 mph to win his first career pole. The previous record in the new Next Gen car was 183.7 mph at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2021. However, it is still far from the fastest NASCAR car ever.

Fastest NASCAR race in 2022

Michigan International Speedway recorded the highest speed in the series. Charlotte is second, followed by the Las Vegas race. Below is a list of the top 10 ranking of the average top speeds in the series in 2022.


Average speed

Michigan International Speedway

190.7 mph

Charlotte Motor Speedway

183.7 mph

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

182.7 mph

Daytona International Speedway

181.2 mph

Talladega Superspeedway

180.9 mph

Kansas Speedway

179.6 mph

Auto Club Speedway, Fontana

174.6 mph

Darlington Raceway

170.7 mph

Pocono Raceway

170.0 mph

Dover Motor Speedway

160.1 mph

Is NASCAR faster than F1?

Formula One cars are the fastest compared to other motorsports. They can hit speeds of 360km/h (223mph). Indycar, another major American racing series, is the second fastest, with a capacity of reaching 236mph (380km/h).

In terms of acceleration, NASCAR cars reach 0-96km/h in 3.4s. A Formula 1 car does 0-100km/h in 2.6s, while an Indycar machine does this in 3s.

Difference between NASCAR and F1

Is NASCAR faster than F1?
Formula One and NASCAR are two of the most popular motorsports worldwide. Photo: Jonathan Bachman, Rudy Carezzevoli
Source: Getty Images

Both motorsports have a lot of differences, which make them unique. They have massive followers worldwide and employ some of the best drivers. Here is a breakdown of the distinguishing features of the two races.

Which one is more dangerous?

F1 is more dangerous than its competitors because of its high speed and the open cockpit, which exposes the drivers to many dangers. Meanwhile, NASCAR uses an enclosed stock in their cars that protect drivers. Their car designs are similar to the ones on the roads.

Race duration and pitstops

Formula One runs for 2 hours, including stoppages, while NASCAR races can take up to 3 hours to finish. NASCAR can have up to six pitstops of 12-16 seconds, including changing tires and re-fueling. However, Formula 1 pitstop can take just 2-3 seconds.

Tracks and circuits

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing has identical circuits based in USA and Canada. Their track length is smaller than Formula 1 tracks, which are available in various countries in different designs.

Overtaking rules

While NASCAR allows drivers to bump into other cars to overtake, F1 is quite strict. It does not allow drivers to make contact. Drivers can only pull off a DRS overtake if they are within a second of the car in front.


F1 is more global than its competitors. The races often occur worldwide, attracting more fanbase and a broader audience. However, their competitors are quite limited to the US, as most circuits are in the Americas.

NASCAR records that will stand for many years

How fast do NASCAR cars go?
Richard Petty and his father, Lee Petty, pose with a plaque given to Richard by Darlington Raceway for his 55th career NASCAR Cup win in the Rebel 400 held in May 1967 at Darlington. Photo: ISC Images
Source: Getty Images

Besides Bill Elliott's staggering speed that has stood for 35 years, other legendary drivers have also produced astonishing records that have lasted for decades. The Seven-time champion, 200-time winner and Hall of Fame legend Richard Petty, leads in terms of records set.

  • Richard Petty - Winning 10 Consecutive Races (1967)
  • Richard Petty - Winning 27 Races (1966-67)
  • Richard Petty - 200 career victories
  • Jimmie Johnson - Five Consecutive Championships (2006-2010)
  • J.D McDuffie Goes - 653 races without a victory in NASCAR Career

Bubba Wallace, the fastest NASCAR car driver in 2022, will be hoping to chase the 200 mph speed range. He is considered the best superspeedway driver in the Cup Series. In October 2021, Wallace became the second black driver to win at NASCAR's top Cup Series level (Talladega Superspeedway) after Wendell Scott in 1963.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.