NASCAR Sprint Cup: Power Ranking the 10 Most Unbreakable Records
Every sport has its records that are considered "unbreakable." Every now and again, an unlikely hero emerges to break that incredible feat. In a sense, almost no record is completely unbreakable, although some records are extremely safe.
The most "unbreakable" record that was eclipsed in recent memory was probably Cal Ripken Jr.'s passing Lou Gehrig for the most consecutive baseball games played. Other than that, most, if not all, truly safe and meaningful records have remained intact.
Barry Bonds does not count.
I speak of baseball purposefully because both NASCAR and Major League Baseball have something in common when considering records: the so-called "Modern Era."
Basically, this means that each sport has evolved so much over time that some records, set in days prior to the "Modern Eras," have made it so that some records are indeed unbreakable.
For instance, any pitcher who wins 300 games in baseball today is genuinely considered a lock for the Hall of Fame. Cy Young won 511 games in his career. This record will never be broken. No pitcher can possibly average 30 wins a year for 17 seasons in the modern game. Few pitchers even get 30 decisions per year, let alone wins.
NASCAR is much the same. Drivers do not race as much as in the past. I have tried to include records that mostly remain in the Modern Era. In terms of NASCAR, that means after the 1971 season. 1972 was the year that the season was shortened from 48 to 31 races, no longer allowing for a chance for some records to be eclipsed due to the truncation.
Still, some records are so huge that they defy any sort of era. Here they are.
10. Wins on a Birthday: 2
NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough has won twice on his actual birthday, March 27th. He did this in 1977 and 1983. Except for Yarborough, this had never even happened in NASCAR history until 2009.
Kyle Busch was able to win at Richmond on May 2, 2009, his birthday. Kyle may yet win again on his birthday, but the odds of doing it a third time are almost insurmountable.
It is certainly not the most revered record, but it does have an air of safety.
9. Closest Margin of Victory: (tie) .002 Second
Jimmie Johnson won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega over Clint Bowyer by the smallest of margins at two thousandths of a second. Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet finished third. Look how close it was!
The same margin of victory was achieved by Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch in 2003 at Darlington.
The record could be broken, realistically, but drivers only have .001 second to do so.
8. The Youngest Daytona Winner: 20 Years, 1 Day
This made for a great story for the 2011 season opener. Almost no one had heard of Trevor Bayne before his victory at the the Daytona 500 in February.
Fewer still probably knew that he had just celebrated his 20th birthday the day before the race when he crossed the finish line ahead of the field.
The previous record holder was Jeff Gordon, who was 25 when he accomplished the feat.
7. The Oldest Race Winner: 52 Years, 7 Months, 6 Days
Harry Gant won at an extremely old age at the Michigan International Speedway in 1992.
Actually, Mark Martin is currently still competing in the Sprint Cup and is older than Gant right now.
However, Martin looks as if he does not have a win left in him. He has not won since 2009 and has not seriously contended for a win in 2011. There is strong rumour that he may not run a full Cup series in 2012.
Therefore, Gant's record seems to be firmly intact with only one current challenger and very, very few in the near future. The sport is trending towards younger competitors.
6. The Sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway
This might not be an "official" record, but it is a monumental accomplishment, in any sense. Further, it is unlikely to be equalled any time in the near or distant future. To win three races in the top three NASCAR divisions in a single weekend, especially at Bristol Motor Speedway, is a historic accomplishment.
Very few Sprint Cup drivers compete simultaneously in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series like Kyle Busch. The chances to do this, for any driver, are limited due to the different schedules of all three series in a calendar year.
Currently, this record cannot be broken. It can only be matched, unless NASCAR creates a fourth top division series.
5. Winning 4 Consecutive Races
This a "Modern Era" record. Richard Petty won 10 consecutive races in 1967. That is unbreakable.
After 1972, only eight drivers have been able to win four races in a row: Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip
Dale Earnhardt; Harry Gant, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
The last three are all now on the same team: Hendrick Motorsports. Rick Hendrick has a knack for picking quality drivers to steer his cars.
In the Modern Era, getting that fifth consecutive win seems as equally unbreakable as Petty's 10 consecutive wins.
Whichever record you choose to acknowledge, they will not be broken.
4. Fastest to 50 Wins: 232 Starts
Only a dozen drivers in NASCAR history even have 50 wins. Jeff Gordon achieved it faster than anyone, and in dominating fashion. It took him only 232 starts to accomplish this.
Darrel Waltrip, number two on the list, ran 278 races before getting to 50 wins.
It is possible that someone may eclipse Waltrip. However, to win 50 races in what is about equal to a driver's first seven seasons is, in the modern day, almost insurmountable.
3. Five Consecutive Championships
It is possible that Jimmie Johnson could break his own record in 2011 and win a sixth straight championship. However, it appears unlikely.
Johnson crushed the previous record of three consecutive championships set by Cale Yarborough.
It looks as if five consecutive championships is the record that will stand. It may stand forever. No one can even make an attempt to break it until 2016. That assumes, of course, that whoever wins the 2011 championship will continue doing so through 2015.
After that, that driver then has to win the championship in 2016. Unbreakable.
2. Crew Chief Wins: 198
Recent Hall of Fame inductee Dale Inman was a prime minister in the court of a king. He served as the crew chief to NASCAR's most successful driver of all time.
He also was a crew chief for Terry Labonte when he won the championship in 1984. Altogether, he has been a key part of eight championship seasons.
Inman has more than double the wins of any crew chief in NASCAR history. The current active leader, Chad Knaus, has 53 outright wins plus two that his team won while suspended. No matter, he still has a long, long way to go.
1. Most Wins: 200
Richard "The King" Petty won 200 races in the Modern and Pre-Modern Eras of NASCAR. He is first on the list by a whopping 94 races ahead of David Pearson.
Racing is all about winning. Time is unimportant. No one will ever win as much as Richard Petty did, ever.
Ricky Rudd: 788 consecutive starts. The ONLY reason this did not make the list is because Jeff Gordon actually has a decent chance to eclipse this mark in 2015 if he continues driving full-time. At the end of 2011 Gordon will have 653 consecutive starts.
Darrel Waltrip: Seven consecutive wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and 12 overall. Wow!