5 unbreakable NASCAR records
Richard Petty practically rewrote the NASCAR record book in his time on the track, but there are other noteworthy drivers — like Bill Elliott, Ned Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd — who hold some interesting records of their own.
From the amazing to the bizarre, these are NASCAR's five most unbreakable records.
5. Most starts without a win
J.D. McDuffie holds the dubious honor of most starts in the NASCAR Cup Series without a win at a staggering 653.
Michael McDowell, a 12-year NASCAR veteran, is the current driver with the most starts without a win at 336, just more than half of McDuffie's total. McDowell would have to drive at least nine more years and into his age 44 season to surpass McDuffie.
4. Fewest stock car races before first NASCAR start
On March 2, 1975, an 18-year-old Rudd became the first and only driver to start a NASCAR race without any prior stock car racing experience.
Rudd, who had only raced go-karts and motocross, piloted his No. 10 Ford to an 11th-place finish at North Carolina Motor Speedway. It's unthinkable that NASCAR would sanction a driver without stock car experience to race in the Cup Series ever again.
3. Most wins, most consecutive wins, most wins in a season
We grouped these three records together, otherwise Petty would dominate this column like he did NASCAR in the 1960s and 1970s.
"The King" won 200 races during his career. His first came in 1960 and the last in 1984. In the 1966-1967 season, Petty won 27 out of 47 races, including 10 in a row from Aug. 12 to Oct. 1. These numbers are unthinkable in the modern age of racing.
2. Fastest qualifying lap
Elliott's record 212.809 mph qualifying lap at Talladega Superspeedway in 1987 comes with a grim backstory.
Elliott earned his record May 1, just two days before a crash that involved Bobby Allison, in which several fans were injured by scattered debris. NASCAR promptly responded by mandating restrictor plates at superspeedways to limit top speeds. With safety of the drivers the top priority, it is unlikely NASCAR will ever allow cars to go as fast as Elliott's did that day.
1. Margin of victory
Jarrett won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 6, 1965 by the unbelievable margin of 14 laps. He was helped a great deal by the fact that only 15 out of 44 drivers finished the race.
It was a very hot day in Darlington, and many of the cars suffered engine overheating. By the time Jarrett got to the lead (Fred Lorenzen and Darel Dieringer combined to lead 256 of the first 325 laps), he was the only Ford left in the race. His brilliant on-the-fly idea kept his car in the race and allowed him to run up the score.
"Going into the turn, I would cut the switch off and kill the motor and let the raw gasoline run in there, and that would have a cooling effect on the car," Jarrett said. "I had no idea where the thought came from other than above, I guess. The good Lord was looking out for me."