Talladega Damage Assessment From This NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

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Talladega lived up to the expectations many people had for it even though many were upset when it was over. For much of the first three fourths of the race it was mildly interesting and almost caution free. Just because I say it was mildly interesting does not mean it was without intensity or drama if for no other reason than because of how the Chasers were moving in and out of the top eight in the points battle. That alone was entertaining but this fan was really looking forward to the last thirty to fifty laps because I was really interested in seeing how things were going to finish up and I expected some fireworks.

Before the race started, a whole lot of emphasis was put on the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. I don’t see much of a reason to expand on it further here so I won’t but I do have to say once again as I have said since it happened, I expect that move to come back and haunt Logano more than once in the future. I would only bring up that anyone doubting that should go back and look at his teammate Brad K and his actions last season and this season. The only thing I can say for either one of them is that they will learn and mature and discover that wisdom comes with age. Many drivers say they are going to race others the way they race them but they find it difficult to admit they’ve stepped over a line. Respect is a hard thing to regain when you prove you cannot be respected and, like it or not, what you do on the track in the heat of the battle says a whole lot about your character. (There… I’ve said all I want to say about it and I’m done. Now we’ll just see how it all turns out.)

There seemed to be a lot of criticism of NASCAR when the race ended under caution but, honestly, this fan thinks they made the right calls, even though I am not a fan of ending a race under caution at any time other than for weather issues. It is my personal opinion that races, especially races with so much on the line as there was at Talladega should be ended under green racing conditions. I understand why they made the change to the
G-W-C but the change immediately pointed out its own shortcomings with what happened. I don’t envy NASCAR their job at all and they do a very good job overall. Personally and from this fan’s view, they may have to tweak the rule a time or two yet.

I do have to admit that I never expected Denny Hamlin to be one of those eliminated from moving on to the next round. With the strength the Joe Gibbs teams had been demonstrating over the last couple of months I just didn’t see it. Even more unexpected was that they knocked themselves out of the running with a mistake or two and a roof hatch problem. In reality, the roof hatch problem did the most damage to their chances. I guess it just goes to show that anything that can go wrong will go wrong and generally at the worst possible time. So now, at least for the Joe Gibbs teams it’s down to two, Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush.

Speaking of Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush, Carl has quietly been performing consistently and has shown that consistency pays good dividends. He hasn’t shown the same strength as Matt Kenseth or Joey Logano have recently but he definitely could come out of this with his first Championship. I’m not picking him – or anyone for that matter at this time – but his chances do look good up to this point. I guess we won’t actually know for sure until at least two of the races are done in the Elimination round. Let’s put it this way, he didn’t do himself any damage at Talladega and he is looking solid when it comes to the tracks in the next three weeks.

I’m sure Kyle is one of the happiest drivers in the group coming out of Talladega. Considering he was not at a likely contender at all after his accident at Daytona in February, he has made it this far in the Chase and that has to be encouraging in a couple of ways for him. First he has made it into round three and has as good a chance as anyone to go all the way to becoming Cup Champion as any of the remaining eight. Second, even with all of the lackluster finishes in the Chase so far, he is still in contention and that has to make him happy – well, at least somewhat, anyway.

That brings us to Ryan Newman and Dale Jr.

Ryan showed a lot of consistency but he never did look as though he had much of a chance at moving on. He may have been hoping for a repeat of last year but this year is different all round. His team just hasn’t shown the speed for me to ever think of him as a contender this year and I was surprised he made it as far as he did.

Dale Jr. did everything he needed to do except win at Talladega and he probably would have had the circumstances worked out just a little bit differently. In fact, I would say he was damaged the most by the way the last restarts went along with the changed G-W-C rules. Junior Nation is disappointed. I don’t blame them. He overcame a lot of adversity every time it reared its ugly head on Sunday afternoon and it really was disappointing to this NASCAR fan to have him eliminated in such a way as he was. He drove a great race and he was proud of his and his team’s performance. He didn’t whine or complain, he just accepted the way the cards fell and will move confidently and happily on to the next races and then on to next year.

Oh, and by the way… did anyone notice how happy Jeff Gordon was to be moving on to the next round??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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