Restrictor Plate Pack Racing At Talladega


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Talladega… there’s really nothing like plate racing to this fan and the races every season at Talladega are ones I look forward to.  I know the drivers don’t like the plate races that much and I understand their stance, but to this fan there is nothing like watching bumper to bumper, door to door, two and three wide pack racing lap after lap.


Some of my fondest memories as a driver at our local tracks were the times the lineups worked out just right and we might race 15 to 20 laps with hardly any changes to track position and running bumper to bumper and door handle to door handle. It was always intense and from the fan reactions, it was a sight to behold. I know it is much different when it happens at Talladega and Daytona than at local short tracks but, I still like it a lot.


I, for one, am glad the new car and rule changes have basically gotten rid of the two car tandem racing. I really don’t miss it that much (and I am not alone in that at all.) Sure it was interesting at first but it also got boring really quick. I understand there are things about pack racing that many fans may not like but it is still much better than those two car tandems.


One thing I have heard a lot of statements about this week is how this race is a wild card race and no one knows what might happen to the Chase drivers in the points race. I agree with the fact that it is a wild card event and I like that, by its very nature, has the ability to either really shake up the points battle and make it more interesting or make the battle for the Championship more focused on only two or three drivers.


Obviously, many fans would like to see it tighten up the battle rather than make it more focused, just to add interest to the rest of the races left in the season. Well… that is unless it means their favorite driver begins to drop like rock from Talladega forward. Personally, I would like to see the points tighten up for at least the top five positions just to make it more interesting until we get to Homestead in November. Can you imagine what it would be like going into that final race of the Chase with at least five of the drivers being within a few points of each other. I ask you, would that add some drama and excitement to that final race or not?


To add to the drama for the weekend, qualifying has been rained out and the lineup for the race reverts back to the first practice session. From this fan’s view, qualifying doesn’t make a whole lot of difference for the race except for maybe pit selections. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it won’t make any difference at all when it comes down to the finish. Depending on how the final thirty laps go, I’d say it just depends on whether or not there are any caution flags, how many actually come out and how close to the last lap they are.


One big factor will obviously be when or if the “Big One” happens and how many of the Chasers it might affect. There is no guarantee it will happen but the likelihood is always there, especially if the field runs in two and three wide packs for most of the race. You never know when someone might unexpectedly blow a tire in the middle of the pack and take out a bunch of contenders, including some of the Chasers. We’ve seen it happen in years past and it could be that it happens again this year.


I’m not so sure I agree with so many that have said they think this is another race that a non-Chaser will win. Although it does have a high possibility of happening, I just don’t think it will be the case Sunday afternoon. I think there will be times when some of the Chasers will lay back a bit, more to catch their breath and plan or re-plan their strategy. But ‘for the most part I expect the Chasers to be pressing the envelope rather than just riding around. I do realize there are several drivers not in the Chase that are more than capable of winning but, I also know there are several in the Chase that want to spend as much time in the front as they can. For one, it has to do with points and a second reason is that they’re less likely to be involved in an accident if they are out front.


All three of the auto makers have the ability to win this one and I don’t see any of the three that has any great advantage over the others. Sure, the Toyotas have shown speed on the restrictor plate tracks, but so have the Fords and Chevys. Track position is going to be key when it comes down to the final lap or two and the one leading with two to go may not be leading when the checkered flag drops.


It’s a shame we’ll have to wait over 180 laps to get there but, this fan really expects the final five laps to be very interesting…


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© October 19, 2013 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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