NASCAR at Talladega After Thoughts

I have to be honest, not every moment was exciting but I do think the ends justified the means for those fans that sat through some of the the duller moments of the NASCAR race Sunday afternoon. The “push draft” was definitely in full force and even though there was some switching around, for the most part, everyone had a drafting partner… (They had to have one or they would have never been able to keep up with the rest.)

This was one of the most interesting finishes ever at the Talladega track in Alabama, (at least from this fan’s view), and tied the record for closest finishes in NASCAR history. There was very little anyone could hope to have been different, other than possibly who won and in case you missed the race, well… I guess all I can say is you missed it.

Yes, Jimmie Johnson ended up winning, but not without being pushed by his drafting partner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he only won by 0.002 of a second over Clint Boyer. Although there was great anticipation and the possibility of chaos on the final dash from turn four to the checkered flag, they were four wide crossing the finish line. It was all Hendrick Chevys and Roush Fords as eight cars crossed the line less than a quarter of a second (or more likely less than a tenth of a second) apart for those first eight spots. Who could ask for more?!?

Well, I already know the answer to that question. This was Talladega and the one thing that would have made many fans happier would have been Jimmie Johnson pushing Dale Jr across the line ahead of everyone else. Looking at the finishing order, even though all eight of these guys finished nose-to-tail with their chosen drafting partners, Jr didn’t even finish third, that was Jeff Gordon. He did finish fourth though, but that was just a fraction ahead of Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin. Yep, you got it… that gives you an idea of how close the finish was?

Yeah, that was exciting and the race was a good race, but there was a bit of time where there wasn’t much going on other than “push drafting.” If you watched the race you saw many of the contenders just running around in the back, and the front, for much of the race until the last twenty five or so laps. It was mostly for the reason of trying to be sure they would be around at the end of the race so they would have a chance at possibly winning. It was definite that’s what was going on in the Hendrick camp and it worked out very well for them.

In actuality, is was kinda like a couple of years back when most of the competitors fell into single file, follow-the-leader and just turn laps mode until it came time to put the hammer down. As a fan, and being realistic about restrictor plate racing, there is the inherent problem of 188 laps around a little over a two and a half mile oval called a super speedway and trying to make every lap interesting. If you ask the drivers, and especially since the two car draft, they are more interested in just staying in contention and staying out of trouble until it is time to go for it. Lately, that is somewhere around 15 to 25 laps from the end.

If you ask the fans, they will tell you the reason they watch most every lap is they don’t want to miss the “big one” just in case it happens. (Oh, and they like to watch their favorite driver take the lead.) Of course, they do want to be around for the end because they know there is always the possibility of some real action for those final laps, (and possible double file restarts along with multiple green-white-checkers.)

There are many thoughts floating around with the intention of improving on the restrictor plate racing in NASCAR. Although many are well intentioned, I think much of it is misguided. As a fan, I love restrictor plate racing for what it is and I have seen a lot a great restrictor plate races over the years. Does that mean I have enjoyed every lap? Not necessarily but I have always enjoyed the races.

What restrictor plate races may lack in lap after lap excitement they make up for in the possible outbreak of what some would call “mayhem” at any moment. Last year, I wrote in an article about how some of the best memories I have from my own short track racing days were those races where the racing was door handle to door handle and nose to tail for many laps. There is always something exciting to me about close racing; I think many would agree with me about that, although I know there are also some who think racing should have their adrenaline pumping every second or it’s just not worth it.

Restrictor plate racing is more a mental race as well as an endurance race. It also takes more than just a driver to win one… it takes a team. It is my hope, they don’t make any changes to restrictor plate racing (especially just for “the Show”) and that we continue to follow the directive from NASCAR that says, “Boys, have at it!”


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© April 21, 2011 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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