NASCAR's Unbreakable Records
Michael Phelps made Olympic history in the Beijing games, taking home eight gold medals in swimming competition. Phelps eclipsed Mark Spitz’s seemingly unbreakable record of winning seven gold medals in a single year of the Olympic Games, a record that withstood since 1972. Although few expected Spitz’s record to ever fall, Phelps’ gold medal performance made everyone realize that even the most tenured records in sports can be broken.
In NASCAR, several records are withstanding the test of time. Ricky Rudd and his 788 consecutive start streak, Richard Petty’s 200 wins and the seven championships won by Petty and Dale Earnhardt are all milestones with few drivers close to breaking. NASCAR drivers Bobby Labonte and Marc Mitchell discuss which racing records are out of reach and which could be the next to fall.
Bobby Labonte, Sprint Cup Driver:
“I know records are made to be broken, but I don’t think anyone will ever win 200 races again. That’s one record in a league of its own. Someone would have to win 10 races a season for 20 years straight. I just don’t see that happening. Richard Petty is going to have a long reign as King of that achievement.
“Still, you can chase some of these records. It’s not impossible to think of someone breaking the “modern-era season wins” record one day (Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty both have 13 wins in a single season). It would be tough, but someone could break it. It’s going to take an outstanding driver and a phenomenal team, and a few lucky breaks along the way, but it’s not impossible.
“Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt are safe for now, but someone could break their record of seven championships. Racing is more competitive than ever before, but there are a few drivers coming up through the ranks that stand a real chance of winning multiple championships. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are part of an awesome organization and they have tons of talent. They’ll be championship contenders for years to come. It would take a career of near-perfect seasons to win seven championships, but a young driver who gets drafted into a top-tier team could be a threat.”
Marc Mitchell, Driver of the No. 15 Ergon Racing Craftsman Truck
“I don’t see anyone beating Ricky Rudd’s record of consecutive starts. Rudd made 788 consecutive starts. Any driver would be lucky to make half that many starts in their career, much less doing it consecutively. If someone broke into Sprint Cup at age 18, and spent the next 20 years racing without missing a start, they could break it. Who knows, maybe someone like Joey Logano could be on his way to breaking the record, but I doubt anyone will be able to top that streak.
“One record that would be tough to break, but could be broken is Cale Yarborough’s three consecutive championships. No one has done that before or after Cale did it. Jimmie Johnson is right on his heels, though. Johnson has two championships and is working on his third consecutive title this year. It would be amazing if he tied Cale, and even more incredible if he won four in a row.”