A little more than 41 years ago, Buddy Baker became the first driver in history to turn a lap of more than 200 miles per hour in a stock car. Baker did it at the longest oval track in NASCAR, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in a winged Dodge Daytona.
Friday at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway, a whopping 13 drivers cracked the still-magical 200 mph barrier in qualifying for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The sixth of 44 drivers to make qualifying attempts, Carl Edwards turned a rapid lap of 202.452 mph, putting his No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford on the pole for Sunday’s race. Kurt Busch was second at 201.879 mph in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet. Completing the top five were Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola.
The track qualifying record at MIS is 203.241 set by Marcos Ambrose a year ago, right after the track was repaved. Now that the surface is a year old and has endured a harsh Michigan winter, it’s a little slower, but not much.
Some other 200 mph records:
First 200 mph lap at Indianapolis: Tom Sneva ran 200.401 mph and 200.535 mph during two of his four qualifying laps in the 1977 Indy 500. He finished second to A.J. Foyt in the race.
First official 200 mph pass at a dragstrip: This record belongs to Don Garlits, who broke the barrier in Aug. 1964 at Great Meadows, N.J. Some believe Chris Karamasines actually broke the 200 mph barrier in 1960, but that record is in dispute.
First NHRA Funny Car to break 200 mph: Gene Snow did it Aug. 16, 1968 in Dickinson, Texas.
First boat to break 200 mph: Englishman John Cobb made a pass of 206.89 mph over a measured mile on the waters of Loch Ness in his boat Crusader on Sept. 29, 1952. Unfortunately, while trying to make a second run to confirm the record, the boat broke apart and Cobb perished in the crash.