In My Opinion: Talladega

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Carl Edwards into Ryan Newman before going into the catch fence

Carl Edwards into Ryan Newman before going into the catch fence

This is why fans flock to Talladega, Al. Racing action at it’s finest. Three-wide, nose-to-tail racing. Everyone looking to get ahead of the pack and take the lead and the win. On the other tracks, they ride around until the last 100 laps. At Talladega they are racing three-wide most of the race. And can only stop to breathe during a caution.

The problem is they are going so fast and so close to each other, there is no room for error. But the racing at this track and Daytona, is the reason fans love the Sport. Nowhere else do you get racing this intense. Some may ride around in the back, hoping not to get collected too early, but they have to keep up with everyone else or they will loose the draft and not be able to catch up again.

At the Daytona 500 in 2001, one of the most-loved drivers in the Sport, Dale Earnhardt, lost his life. And NASCAR went into a frenzie trying to figure out why it happened and how to prevent that from happening again. They came out with the mandatory HANS (Head And Neck System) device. They came up with the SAFER barrier, to absorb the energy when someone crashed into the concrete wall. They even made the COT (Car Of Tomorrow) with many safety features built in.

But in my opinion, none of those things were the real problem. Yes the drivers are safer. As seen by Carl getting out of his car after flying into the catch fence and running to the finnish line. He even said something should be done before someone is killed. And he wasn’t talking about the drivers. But the fence did what it was supposed to do. It knocked Carl back onto the track and kept him from flying into the stands. Everything did what they were supposed to do. And yet, people got hurt.

Some say that there should not be that double yellow line rule on the last lap. And maybe that should be looked at. Last year at Talladega Regan Smith was forced below that line with the Checkers in sight. Instead of crashing into Tony to get back up there, he stayed where he was and got to the finish line first. Tony was declared the winner and Regan was sent back to the last car on the lead lap. This time Carl tried to knock Brad Keselowski below the yellow line, Brad stood his ground and Carl went flying.

I have to ask which was the better ending. Regan should have won with no spectacular crash. Brad could have been forced below the yellow line, and it could have been a race to the line between the two of them. As it was, Brad stood his ground and Carl was the one who went flying. So, yes, that rule should not be in effect with the Checkers in sight. It maybe shouldn’t be there at all. At the Daytona 500 this year, Brian Vickers blocked Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and sent him below the yellow line. Jr., trying to get back up onto the track, clipped Brian and sent him into the other drivers. Would he have done that if there was no yellow line rule?

My other concern is the blocking. I know that’s what the drivers say it is their job to do. In my opinion, blocking is what causes the wrecks. If a driver is faster, he should be able to get around someone slower. And the slower car should not be allowed to block. Blocking kills! Blocking forced Carl flying into the stands. Brad pushed Carl almost to the Finish line, moved over to try for the win and Carl blocked. We all saw what happened. Jr. pushed Ryan to near the end. When they got there, they split up to try to win. If Carl hadn’t blocked, it would have been quite a different ending. Any of those four could have won.

So what, if anything, should be done? Maybe nothing. Fans flock to Talladega just to see that kind of racing. The fence held and no one was seriously hurt. Maybe don’t fill the stands that close to the wall? Perhaps. If the double yellow line rule wasn’t in place, there might be less crashing to get back up there. In my opinion, what needs to be addressed is the blocking. Blocking causes the crashes.

Do the fans want to see caution-free racing? Some watch just to see the crashes. It isn’t racing unless someone crashes. Or is it? In my opinion, if I wanted to see crashes, I’d go to a demolition durby. I watch NASCAR to see racing. But I have to admit, Talladega is one race that I simply cannot be doing something else while it’s going on. Like I said, it’s racing at it’s finest. You just can’t beat three-wide, nose-to-tail racing.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

Visit me on Twitter: SheilaHawley

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