The 2019 season saw NASCAR bring a new package to the Gen 6 cars.
As the Cup Series prepares for the Gen 7 transition in 2021, the organizing body is testing some concepts.
One of the biggest changes made for this year was the introduction of the tapered spacer.
It was brought in to replace the restrictor plate, which was the previous choice to limit the car’s speed.
This was done to improve the show, lowering the car’s speeds to force closer racing.
The spacer’s size changes from one track to another.
This year’s qualifying speeds have been significantly different compared to the previous seasons.
Here is an updated list of the fastest tracks in the Cup Series by qualifying speed.
Coming 10th is the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
The two mile oval shares the same layout as Michigan, but its older surface makes it a slower track.
Austin Dillon scored the pole for this year’s Auto Club 400.
The Richard Childress driver did so with a lap averaging 180.081 mph.
Fontana has essentially retained its spot from previous years as the tenth fastest track in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Kentucky is the newest track in the Cup Series, having been added in 2011.
The 1.5 mile oval has a relatively even baking across the entire track.
Thanks to this, there isn’t a lot of variation in speed.
The track was recently resurfaced in 2016, but due to it being fairly new, this hasn’t made such a big difference.
Kentucky will host its 2019 race in July, but it’s possible to come up with an estimate for this year’s speed.
Taking 2018 into account, the track should be the ninth fastest in 2019.
Kansas Speedway was repaved in 2012, which significantly increased the track’s speed.
It jumped up the order, becoming one of the fastest ovals in the series.
Compared to 2018, Kansas is down one spot.
Last year’s pole was a 191.646 lap by eventual champion Joey Logano.
This year’s top spot in qualifying went to Kevin Harvick, averaging 179.217.
Even with the drop in speed, Kansas remains one of the fastest 1.5 mile tracks.
Las Vegas has moved up a spot compared to 2018.
The fastest pole speed at the track came in round 3, with Ryan Blaney posting a 191.489 lap.
Kevin Harvick started this year’s race from the pole with a 180.517 mph average.
Vegas has always been known for its high speed, and the progressive banking adds to that factor.
Indycar’s speed at the track in 2011 exceeded 222 mph, which shows how fast the Vegas oval is.
Atlanta has been in talks for repaving its surface for quite some time.
Drivers however have opposed it, as the bumps are part of the oval’s identity.
Even with the relatively worn out surface, the 1.5 mile oval is still one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR.
It hasn’t seen such a huge drop in speed from 2018, when Kyle Busch posted a 184.652 lap.
This year’s pole went to Aric Almirola with a 181.473.
Atlanta made a significant jump, now being the sixth fastest track.
Charlotte Motor Speedway is the second fastest 1.5 mile oval in the Cup Series.
It was repaved in 2006, but still holds its own with some pretty high speeds.
Charlotte’s corners have a 24 degree banking, placing it among the highest in the series.
Kyle Busch scored the pole last season with a 191.836 mph lap.
Lap times suffered a drop this season with the new package, as William Byron‘s pole averaged 183.424 mph.
Even then, Charlotte retains its spot among the fastest tracks in NASCAR.
Saying that Michigan is a fast track doesn’t tell the whole story.
Since its resurfacing in 2012, the two mile oval has consistently seen 200 mph laps on average.
NASCAR turned it into a restrictor plate race last year as drivers continued to post laps above the 200 mph mark even on worn tires.
Michigan retained the #1 spot until last year, but the rule changes for 2019 have dropped the qualifying speeds.
Kurt Busch set the record last season with a 203.361 mph lap.
This year’s pole went to Joey Logano with a significant slower lap of 187.139 mph.
Texas Motor Speedway has always been among the fastest tracks in NASCAR.
The oval’s first ever resurfacing in 2017, however, made it even faster.
Kurt Busch set the track’s speed record for NASCAR with a 200.915 mph lap in that same year.
Texas is a sister track to Atlanta and Charlotte, featuring the same layout.
Its repaving, however, also included a change to its banking.
While turns 3 and 4 retained the 24 degree banking, turns 1 and 2 are now at 20 degrees.
Last year’s pole went to Ryan Blaney with a 200.505 lap, which at the time made Texas the second fastest track.
This year’s pole went to Jimmie Johnson with a 188.890 mph lap.
But the best example of Texas’ insanely high speeds comes from the CART Series.
With turbo engines capable of producing 900 hp, the now-defunct championship scheduled a race at Texas for 2001.
It got cancelled after qualifying, with speeds exceeding 230 mph.
Drivers reportedly blacked out due to the 5 g accelerations around the corners.
Talladega is returns to the top 2 in fastest speeds with the new rules package.
The new set of regulations hasn’t brought many changes to the lap averages at superspeedways.
Kurt Busch’s pole lap last year had an average speed of 195.804 mph.
This year’s pole went to Austin Dillon with a 192.544 lap.
Talladega has the highest banking out of all NASCAR tracks, with 33 and 32 degrees.
It is also the longest oval, with a track length of 2.66 miles.
Daytona now retains the number one spot.
The home of NASCAR’s biggest event was the last race in 2019 to feature the old restrictor plate.
This year’s pole therefore wasn’t that far off compared to 2018.
Even with the increased drag from the new aero pack, William Byron was able to score a lap averaging 194.305 mph.
Teammate Alex Bowman started from the pole in 2018 with a 195.644 lap.
Daytona is second to Talladega in track length, with 2.5 miles, and banking, with 31 degrees.
It was resurfaced in 2010 despite plenty of protests from drivers.
While the bumps had become part of Daytona’s identity, that year’s 500 was interrupted several times by holes appearing across the track.
The track’s repaving has led to significantly higher speeds since then.
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