Top 31 Moments: No. 15 -- Track records shattered

BY Tom Jensen • December 17, 2014

Editor's note: For the month of December, will count down 31 moments that defined the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. This is No. 15.


"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," began with a funny, albeit facetiously attributed quote in the opening credits: "America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed. -- Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936."


Obviously, the famous former first lady never actually said that, but hot, nasty, badass speed is what the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will be remembered for.


There were 36 Sprint Cup points races this year, with 24 track records set in qualifying. Of the 23 tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit, 17 of them saw new record speeds, including several with track records set in multiple race weekends.


The most impressive record, perhaps, came at Texas Motor Speedway in the fall race, when Tony Stewart qualified at 200.111 miles per hour in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. It was the first time in NASCAR history that the 200 mph barrier was shattered at a 1.5-mile track.


"Even if it got broken here next spring, it's still just to be able to be the first guy to do it, that's the kind of things that I like. I like being the first," said Stewart, who set the Texas track record in the second of three rounds of qualifying. "We've been lucky enough to be the first to do a couple of things in racing. Records are always going to be broken. One thing that won't change is that we were the first to do it, and that's really cool."


"It's crazy fast," added Texas pole-winner Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing. "... It's incredibly fast. It's amazing you can go around there with that much throttle in a Cup car, for sure."


The reason for the track records was simple: For 2014, NASCAR eliminated the minimum ride height rule at most tracks, which meant the cars could run lower to the ground. That in turn meant better aerodynamics, a lower center of gravity and increased speed.


Next year, NASCAR will eliminate 175 or so horsepower from the Cup cars and change the aerodynamic package for the third year in a row, making it a good bet that many of these records will stand for quite a while.


NASCAR Sprint Cup tracks by fastest 2014 pole speed:


Michigan International Speedway -- Jeff Gordon, 206.558 mph

Daytona International Speedway -- David Gilliland, 199.322 mph

Texas Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth, 199.290 mph

Talladega Superspeedway -- Brian Scott, 198.290 mph

Charlotte Motor Speedway -- Kyle Busch, 197.390 mph

Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- Joey Logano, 193.278 mph

Kentucky Speedway -- Brad Keselowski, 188.791 mph

Auto Club Speedway -- Matt Kenseth, 187.315 mph

Pocono Raceway -- Kyle Larson, 183.438 mph

Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Jeff Gordon, 180.747 mph

Dover International Speedway -- Brad Keselowski, 164.444 mph

Phoenix International Raceway -- Denny Hamlin, 142.113 mph

New Hampshire Motor Speedway -- Brad Keselowski, 140.598 mph

Bristol Motor Speedway -- Denny Hamlin, 129.991 mph

Watkins Glen International -- Jeff Gordon, 129.465 mph

Richmond International Raceway -- Brad Keselowski, 126.618 mph

Martinsville Speedway -- Jamie McMurray, 99.905 mph

Sonoma Raceway -- Jamie McMurray, 96.350 mph

Darlington Raceway -- pole not awarded

Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- pole not awarded

Atlanta Motor Speedway -- pole not awarded

Chicagoland Speedway -- pole not awarded

Kansas Speedway -- pole not awarded in either race.

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