I’m sure everyone has seen the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway by now. Or at least has seen the spectacular ending. And much analysis has gone on about what happened and who’s fault it was. I don’t have any answers, but I’d like to give my own opinion.
In this economy, the different tracks have suffered not filling the stands. And the fans all say why bother go to a track to see boring races. Is it the car? Is it the tracks? Why are the races boring? Aren’t there enough crashes to suit the fans? All good questions. But Talladega didn’t have any trouble filling the stands. And I’ll bet ratings went up this week. I don’t know yet for sure, but in my opinion, I’ll bet they did.
Let’s face it, Talladega is an exciting race. The fans love the racing at that track. The drivers aren’t so sure they like racing there. Let’s face it, three-wide, nose-to-tail racing is just exciting. I personally don’t like all the big crashes. But the racing is superb. I missed out on sightseeing in Houston in 1998 because I HAD to see the race at Talladega.
There’s just something about everyone racing for 500 miles without letting off. You simply cannot go 500 miles without letting off the throttle. That is, without someone not making a mistake. And at such close quarters, the one mistake is inevitable. Restrictor-plate racing is very exciting. And the crashes are spectacular. It’s the nature of the beast. And it’s why everyone watches.
Now in this race they had a big one when Jeff Gordon tried to make it four-wide and Matt Kenseth was there. That triggered many cars being caught up in a crash. Even the one-car crashes of Michael Waltrip and Kurt Busch were great because they both saved it and didn’t crash into anyone or anything.
The problem isn’t restrictor-plates. Or going too fast. Or even trying to pass below the double yellow line. The problem is, in my opinion, blocking. The eighth caution came out because Kyle Busch was blocking. The high side was going fast while he was leading, so he went up high. When he did, the low side went fast and he went down. The announcers all decided he was “going three-wide all by himself”. And thought that was great. But when you do that, the one you are blocking may not want to be blocked.
In fact, blocking is what causes most of the crashes. And since they are all so close together, everyone gets taken out. That’s what happened to Kyle. He was blocking and Jeff Burton decided not to give. And Kyle spun out. Dale Earnhardt lost his life at Daytona in 2001 because he was blocking and someone didn’t give.
So this race we saw something a little different. Two cars hooked up together and pulled away. The drivers being Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushing Ryan Newman. Then Brad Keselowski pushed Carl Edwards from way back up into the lead. Dale and Ryan stayed together until the last second, Dale going low near the end and Ryan going high. Either could have won with that plan. They stayed together until the last few yards and it would have unfolded for either one of them to win.
But Brad pushed Carl into the lead. And at the last second, they each wanted to win. Brad tried to go high, Carl blocked. Brad went low, Carl tried to block. But Brad was near the double yellow line. And last year Tony Stewart pushed Regan Smith below the yellow line. Regan passed him there and didn’t get the win, but finished the last car on the lead lap! So, when Carl came down to block, Brad stood his ground and Carl spun himself out. It was spectacular, with Carl getting airborn and hitting Ryan’s car on the hood and into the windshield. And then getting more airborn and into the catch fence. No driver was hurt. But debris hurt 8 fans.
So my take on this whole thing? Don’t have that yellow line rule the last few yards when the Checkers are flying. And don’t let blocking be acceptible. Blocking causes the crashes. Don’t let them do that. Could Carl have won if he didn’t block? I don’t know. But we all know what happened when he did block. Tony blocked and won. Because of the yellow line rule. So get rid of both. No blocking. No yellow line rule. At least not when the Checkers are in sight.
In defence of NASCAR, the cars did what they were supposed to do. They kept the drivers safe. The catch fence did what it was supposed to do. It caught the car and sent it back onto the track. And Carl got out of the car and ran to the finish line. Everyone has the option of entering the race or not. And fans fill the stands, knowing something spectacular could happen. That’s why they buy tickets.
In my opinion, Talladega is the best race of the year. Both times. Anyone can win. Brad Keselowski won this time. And I’m happy for him and Jim Finch Racing. It was a great race.