Nascar at Talladega: Bump Drafting Rule Changes and Some Unknowns Could Add A New Dimension to the Usual Talladega Excitement

Rusty NormanA few unknowns, the relaxing of the bump drafting rules and bad weather on Saturday at Talladega will definitely figure into the mix of the Aaron’s 499 this weekend. If you listen to the drivers, even they expect this to be one of the most exciting Talladega races in a while, (in fact, some even said it could get pretty wild out there.)

Whether or not they are talking about several multiple car crashes or a couple of “big ones”, I’m not sure, but one thing is certain, it will prove to be an interesting race especially since qualifying was called off because of bad weather possibilities.

One of the unknowns this weekend is how the spoiler will figure into the racing on Sunday afternoon. It does appear that Nascar has done their preparation well in the way they’ve re-instituted the spoiler over the wing to these cars. It also appears that it won’t be the drastic difference some feared it would be, but it may well be something that will be talked about more in the coming weeks after the Talladega race depending on what happens as this race drags on.

From listening to all the chatter surrounding using the spoiler last weekend in Texas and the little bit of practice the teams got with it on Friday, the drivers seem to like it but do admit it does make the car feel at least slightly different. I do think the jury is still out on extended runs in two and three wide racing configurations and what may happen when someone decides to block.

One of the unknowns that will probably prove to be the most significant will be the relaxing of the bump-drafting rules, at least in this fan’s opinion. When two cars hook up it is a known fact from recent racing, they can make large gains on, and even pull away from, those that are in packs of three or more cars. Yes, it is true, they can only stay nose-to-tail for a limited time simply because the car that is the pusher begins to overheat, but, what will be interesting to see is how many two car drafts we will see and how separated they will be from each other around the track. This raises a question I haven’t really seen on the track yet, but, can there be several two car drafts going on in the same pack of cars? I guess we will find out on Sunday when I am sure it will be tried.

Another of the unknowns could prove to be the one that causes some minor skirmishes or major pile-ups as the day wears on. That unknown is how the two car drafts and the closing rates of the cars with a run on the others can handle drivers blocking to keep their positions. From my observations, this is the one thing that appears to cause most problems if for no other reason than the speeds they are running. If it is like normal, reaction time can make the difference between someone just getting a little out of shape or a “big one” taking out a bunch of contenders like the one late in the race at Texas.

Since qualifying was called because of weather problems, the lineup will be according to points and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for everyone nearer the top of the points over the rest of the field. I don’t think there will a lot of racers trying to get a jump at the very beginning and, therefore, I don’t expect too much to happen early on in the race. It is very possible there will be times (perhaps even extended times), of single file, follow the leader laps until nearer the end. Does that mean I think the whole race is going to be “boring?” No, of course not, this is restrictor plate racing, but I do know there will be many drivers that are very familiar with the old saying, “To finish first, you have to first finish.”

Now, I could be wrong, but I do believe the last fifty miles of the race will prove to be the best part of the race. That is just a product of restrictor plate racing and it depends on whether or not one or more “big one” has occurred before they get that far. Of course, that also depends on whether or not those accidents have taken out some of the more popular and competitive teams.

When it comes right down to it, I do expect the Hendrick teams will be right there in the hunt at the end along with Penske, Roush, Childers, Waltrip and Gibbs. H-m-m-m… now that I think about it, that means just about everybody.

Yep… that’s exactly what it means…

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© April 24, 2010 – all rights reserved

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