The 5 Fastest NASCAR Tracks (Top Speed Guide)

The NASCAR schedule features more than 20 tracks of varying lengths and top speeds. One way to measure a track is how fast it is. So, you may wonder what the 5 fastest tracks are in NASCAR. 

The 5 fastest tracks in NASCAR are:

  1. Michigan
  2. Texas
  3. Daytona
  4. Talladega
  5. Atlanta

Below, we will dive into more detail regarding each of these tracks and discuss what makes them so fast. We will then touch on the slowest track in NASCAR, before we explore the fastest tracks the sport has ever raced on. 

View from the banked corner down the straight at NASCAR's Daytona International Speedway with grandstands on the left and the infield section on the right, with blue skies above, The Fastest NASCAR Tracks

What Is The Fastest NASCAR Track?

The fastest NASCAR track by average pole speed is Michigan International Speedway, located in Brooklyn, Michigan. With an average qualifying pole speed of 198 mph (319 kph), it’s faster than the likes of Talladega and Daytona, even though the cars may reach higher top speeds at the latter tracks.

There is an ongoing debate regarding which NASCAR track is the fastest, so to figure out the fastest track, you must look at several variables. The fastest tracks in NASCAR usually have the longest straights, as these allow drivers to reach the highest top speeds.

They also tend to have greater banking in the corners. NASCAR tracks are banked because it helps drivers go faster in the turns. Tracks with steeper banking are usually faster than tracks with flatter corners. So, when you combine long straights with steep banking, it leaves you with tracks like Daytona, Atlanta, Michigan, and Talladega. 

Is Talladega The Fastest NASCAR Track?

Talladega Superspeedway is often touted as the fastest track in NASCAR. The track took the top spot from Daytona International Speedway upon its completion in 1969, and since then it has recorded the highest speeds in NASCAR history. The track is so fast that it became one of two tracks that NASCAR required restrictor plates for between 1988 and 2019. 

After Bill Elliott set a record speed of 213 mph (343 kph) before the 1987 Winston 500, also known as NASCAR’s Fastest Race, Bobby Allison’s airborne crash into the catchfence showed NASCAR that they had to do something to slow the cars down both here and at Daytona. This led to the restrictor plate, which was intended to keep the speeds under 200 mph (322 kph).

Why Is Michigan Speedway So Fast?

While tracks like Talladega have restrictor plates and, in modern times, tapered spacers, along with a special horsepower package to keep them slower, other fast tracks on the NASCAR circuit use a higher horsepower package. These tracks, despite their immense size, also did not require restrictor plates when they were in use between 1988 and 2019. 

This makes Michigan International Speedway one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, and in terms of pole speeds, Michigan is the fastest NASCAR track. When you look at pole speeds during the Generation 6 Era, they were almost always recorded at 200 mph (322 kph).

In the Next Gen Era, the cars have gotten slightly slower across the board. While at Daytona and Talladega, the pole speeds sit at around 181 mph (291 kph), the speeds at Michigan are around 191 mph (307 kph). However, Michigan uses a higher 670 horsepower package instead of the 510 package used at Daytona and Talladega, despite the tapered spacer being the same 0.922 inch (2.3 cm). 

KEY FACT: Because tracks like Talladega and Daytona use tapered spacers, they have the potential to be faster than Michigan if they ran the same horsepower package

Variables That Make Michigan So Fast 

So, what makes Michigan such a fast track? Its repave in 2012 gave it more speed, but like Talladega, it also has long straights that allows drivers to dramatically increase their speeds. It also has 18 degrees of banking, which, while not as steep as Daytona’s or Talladega’s, it is still steep enough to allow drivers to maintain high speeds in the turns.

While considered a superspeedway, Michigan is really a D-shaped oval, meaning it also has more banking at the start-finish line, which measures at 12 degrees. 

Why Is Talladega So Fast?

There are two main reasons Talladega is so fast. It is a large track at 2.7 miles (4.3 km) in length, and it has sweeping banking in the corners, the steepest in NASCAR. Turns 1 and 2 sit at 33 degree banking, while Turns 3 and 4 are slightly lower, at 32.4 and 32.5, respectively. The tri-oval is also banked at 16.5 degrees. 

Because it is so large, Talladega’s long straights let drivers build more speed, which also occurs at many race tracks that are either intermediate ovals or superspeedways. Talladega’s ultra-steep banking allows drivers to maintain most of their speed when they dive into the turns. 

About 85-90% of Talladega is straight road. Compare this with Bristol, which is a fast track despite its small size. At least half the Bristol track involves turns, meaning drivers have to ease off the throttle much more often than they do at Talladega. 

Since most of the racing involves straights, drivers increase their speed more here than they do even at fast tracks like Daytona, Michigan, and Atlanta. This is the track where we saw Bill Elliott set a record for speed in 1987, when he reached 213 mph (343 kph) to snag pole for the race. Such a speed has not been matched anywhere in NASCAR since. 

Slower With Restrictor Plates & Horsepower Packages

Since the introduction of restrictor plates and now tapered spacers, you don’t see 200 mph (322 kph) qualifying speeds anymore. Following the end of the restrictor plate era in 2019, NASCAR now uses tapered spacers at some tracks. The horsepower package used at three of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, Talladega, Daytona, and Atlanta, are reduced from 670 to 510. 

A Note On Our List

Before we go into the 5 fastest NASCAR tracks, it’s worth reiterating that we’ve based this list off the average pole speeds at each track in the last 5 years. We’ve had to go back more than 5 years for some, as various qualifying formats have been used over the last few years that didn’t use pole speeds to determine who started at the front.

Some lists out there will use top speeds achieved at each track as the metric for the fastest tracks in NASCAR. However, by this measurement, Talladega would be the fastest track, based off a speed last reached more than 30 years ago (with 2022’s pole speed being almost 32 mph slower). We wanted our list to reflect modern NASCAR speeds.

While some tracks may see higher top speeds and some have the potential to be faster than others if the cars weren’t restricted through lower horsepower packages, our list shows you which tracks on the current NASCAR schedule see the cars go round a lap in the shortest time. This means these are, by our definition at least, the fastest NASCAR tracks on the schedule

The 5 Fastest NASCAR Tracks

1. Michigan

Type: Superspeedway | Length: 2 miles / 3.2 km | Average Pole Speed: 198 mph / 319 kph

Michigan tops this list as we have based it off the average pole speeds of the last 5 races at each track, and Michigan’s are almost always the fastest in NASCAR. However, with no restricted horsepower packages at the track, the speeds at Michigan aren’t as suppressed as they are at the tracks listed above it. But it’s still technically the fastest! 

2. Texas

Type: Superspeedway | Length: 1.5 miles / 2.5 km | Average Pole Speed: 194 mph / 312 kph

Texas is a super-fast track, and it has seen pole speeds top 200 mph in recent years. It sits just behind Michigan by this metric, but its high banked corners and long straights ensure that the cars reach incredibly high speeds during practice, qualifying, and the race.

3. Daytona

Type: Superspeedway | Length: 2.5 miles / 4 km | Average Pole Speed: 192 mph / 309 kph

Much like Talladega, Daytona’s length and banking makes it among the fastest tracks in NASCAR. Its banking is not as steep as Talladega’s, measuring at 31 degrees, but its average pole speed is just higher than Talladega’s. 

4. Talladega

Type: Superspeedway | Length: 2.7 miles / 4.3 km | Average Pole Speed: 191 mph / 307 kph

Talladega is often called NASCAR’s fastest track, and this may be true if it weren’t for restrictor plates and tapered spacers. These force the cars to run lower horsepower packages, meaning Talladega’s true speed potential would likely be at least the same as if not higher than Michigan’s.

5. Atlanta

Type: Intermediate Oval | Length: 1.55 miles / 2.5 km | Average Pole Speed: 189 mph / 304 kph

While the Atlanta Motor Speedway doesn’t see the same speeds as Michigan, it still features ultra-steep banking and a repaved surface that debuted in the 2022 season. With a banking of 28 degrees, it is one of the steepest in NASCAR, and this helps drivers achieve fast cornering speeds. NASCAR also runs the lower horsepower package at this track.

What Is The Slowest NASCAR Track?

While fast tracks have high banking in the turns, slow tracks are the opposite as they have little banking. However, some tracks with lesser banking, like Pocono Raceway, have long straights that allow drivers to reach high speeds before they must slow substantially to dive into the turns. 

Therefore, your intermediate ovals and, in Pocono’s case, a superspeedway, are by no means slow tracks, even if they possess less banking. Therefore, the slowest tracks on the circuit are short tracks that also lack high banking. This narrows the list dramatically to tracks like Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Richmond, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

Bristol is absent from this list. Despite being the third shortest track in NASCAR, its banking rests between 26 and 30 degrees, making it the fastest short track on the circuit. Because of its lack of banking and its 0.25 mile (0.4 km) length, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is NASCAR’s slowest track

However, if we are only counting tracks that hold points-paying races, the honor goes to Martinsville. If you watch a race at the track, the average speed hovers between 70 mph and 77 mph. Its banking sits at 12 degrees in the turns, and there is no banking on the straights, which, with its 0.526 mile (0.85 km) length, makes it a slow track. 

Slow Tracks Do Not Mean Boring Racing

Despite being NASCAR’s slowest points-paying track, Martinsville is also one of the schedule’s most popular tracks. This track has stood the test of time, with its first race occurring in 1949 as one of the first races in NASCAR history to occur on an asphalt/concrete surface

One distinguishing trait regarding Martinsville is that it isn’t very wide, meaning some of the closest racing in NASCAR occurs at this paperclip-shaped track. Martinsville is also one of just 10 tracks on the Cup Series circuit that hosts two events per year, solidifying the track’s popularity. 

Final Thoughts

NASCAR has many fast tracks, but the fastest of all in terms of modern pole speeds is Michigan International Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway, Daytona, Talladega, and Atlanta are all ultra-fast too, but Michigan’s 198 mph (319 kph) pole speeds make it the fastest on the modern schedule.