Skip to main content

How fast do NASCAR cars go?

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

How fast do NASCAR cars go? It’s a common question as technology continues to advance every year. That is no different in the race world, where NASCAR features some of the most modern automotive enhancements in the landscape.

While we continue to learn more about speed limits and what’s safe versus what isn’t, some might be surprised to discover there was a time when NASCARs went much faster than the speeds they reach today.

So, how fast can a NASCAR go? Find out the top speed of a NASCAR in our chart down below.

Related: NASCAR schedule: Races today, this weekend, and how to watch

How fast can a NASCAR go? Looking at the stats

NASCAR: Grant Park 220
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

How fast do cars go in NASCAR today? Believe it or not, there was a time when NASCARs topped out at around 240 miles per hour. That is no longer the case, with speeds actually being reduced in 1988 after a string of destructive crashes occurred.

Still, NASCARs today still travel at breakneck speeds topping 200 mph on a consistent basis. But just how fast they can reach depends on the individual track type and race course style.

How fast do NASCARS go?Top lap speedAverage race speed
Half-mile oval100.2 mph82.2 mph
1 mile oval166.9 mph136.7 mph
Superspeedway212.8 mph188.3 mph
Road Course92.7 mph70.2 mph
Dirt Track89.9 mph46.3 mph
Straight line reached on Utah salt flats271.8 mph
Official top speed on track212.8 mph
Charting top speeds of NASCAR vehicles

NASCAR currently uses EFI V8 engines to power their cars. These are limited to a 358 cubic inch or 5.9L displacement. Current Next Gen NASCAR engines are rated at 510 horsepower for restrictor plate racing and 670 hp for all other tracks, including road courses. Now you know how fast cars go in NASCAR.

What is the fastest NASCAR track?

NASCAR: FireKeepers Casino 400
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The fastest track in NASCAR today is considered the Michigan International Speedway. The NASCAR top speed ever recorded here was 212.8 mph, set by Bill Elliott in 1987.

But Jeff Gordon holds the track record at an average speed of 206.5 mph. It’s a track known for its wide racing surface, high banks, and long straightaways. Cars racing at the MIS also don’t require a restrictor plate, allowing for higher speeds.

Related: NASCAR power rankings: Who’s the best driver in NASCAR?

How fast does NASCAR go on oval racetracks?

Oval tracks are typically the fastest tracks in NASCAR because they don’t require sudden stops or several twists and turns. Instead, drivers use the long straightaways to hammer the gas and reach top speeds while bracing for a long curve that still allows them to travel at high rates of speed.

Half-oval races have an average speed in NASCAR of 82.2 mph, with a top average speed of 100.2 mph for a lap. Mile-long oval races have an average speed of 136.7 mph, with a top average speed of 166.9 mph for a full lap.

Related: 10 best NASCAR drivers of all time

How fast does NASCAR go on short tracks?

NASCAR: First Data 500
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR has tracks of various lengths and distances. Short tracks are defined as a course that is a mile or less. Some of the more well-known short tracks include Bristol and Martinsville, which are each about a half-mile.

Average top lap speeds for short tracks come in at 100.2 mph. Since cars don’t have nearly as much space or time to build up speed, we don’t see NASCARs travel at the fastest pace on short tracks.

Related: NASCAR expected to make big changes to the 2024 playoffs

How fast does NASCAR go on mile-long tracks?

Mile-long tracks allow for NASCARs to reach much higher speeds thanks to having more distance to build up speed. We’ve seen speeds as fast as 166 mph on mile-long tracks and have seen average lap times reach 136 mph.

Related: Stewart-Haas Racing’s future in NASCAR receives a big update for the 2024 season

How fast can NASCARs go on a Super Speedway?

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

For fans who are all about speed, Super Speedways are where it’s at in NASCAR. Daytona and Talladega are the most popular speedways in NASCAR. Both tracks are over 2.5 miles in length and feature lengthy straightaways allowing drivers to continue climbing in velocity.

In 1987, Bill Elliott set the fastest lap record in NASCAR at an average speed of 212.8 mph at Talladega. While restrictor plates have reduced speed since cars still travel at speeds north of 200 mph on speedways today.

Related: Stewart-Haas Racing heavily linked to rising NASCAR star to replace Aric Almirola in 2024

How fast does NASCAR go on a road course?

Road tracks are quite different in NASCAR in that they take place on the streets, in sectioned-off areas set aside for the weekend’s event. Because of this unique setup, we see much different speeds on road courses.

The fastest lap time came in at 92 mph, but average speeds can balance between 70-75 mph.

Related: NASCAR drivers: Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series entries for the 2023 season

How fast is the straight-line speed of a NASCAR?

We’ll never get to see NASCARs reach their top rate of speed on an official race course. But automotive enthusiasts are still dying to know what these cars are capable of and just how fast they can go when being pushed to the limit. What’s the top speed for NASCAR vehicles?

So, experienced NASCAR professionals went out to the Utah salt flats and were able to reach a top speed of 271 mph. That’s Formula 1 territory.

How do NASCAR speeds compare to F1 and IndyCar?

NASCARs are fast. There’s no debating that. But NASCARs pale in comparison when matched up against F1 and IndyCars. Here is the average speed for NASCAR while looking at F1 and IndyCars as well.

Race TypeRoad track avg. speedOval avg. speedTotal top speed
NASCAR70.3 mph152.7 mph271.8 mph
F1124.3 mph256.7 mph
IndyCar102 mph206.7 mph257 mph

As you can see NASCAR vehicles go extremely fast, but F1 and IndyCars would still blow past them if they were somehow pitted against one another in a clean race.

Related: Martin Truex Jr.’s big update on possible retirement after the 2023 NASCAR season

Mentioned in this article:

More About: