Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

There’s just something about the Talladega Super Speedway… Well, actually there are a lot of somethings about it and it does tend to get mixed emotions from fans and drivers alike. If you ask the fans they give you an answer based on what they like to see happen and watch. If you ask the drivers… well… you’re going to get mixed comments and emotions there too.

From this fan’s view, I love restrictor plate racing for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest is the way it seems to keep the cars in a pack (or at least one to three packs) and that makes for real intense racing in my book. When you have that number of cars traveling at speeds approaching 200 mph, running bumper to bumper and door handle to door handle possibly up to three or four wide, there is always the increased element of intensity and emotion that can be felt all the way into the stands and beyond. Unless they break off and run for an extended period of time single file, there is really nothing like it to this fan. Those times of single file racing can be bearable as long as they’re not drawn out over a long period of laps. When and if that happens, well, let’s just say it’s time to take a short break and pick up the race a little later.

If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you already know I used to race stock cars at our local tracks and you know what I think of close racing. The only time I can truly say I liked races where one or two drivers leave all the rest in the dust is when I was the one (or one of the two or maybe three) that was leaving them behind. Some of my fondest memories of my racing days were those times when the lineup was in such a way that all we could do for lap after lap was run bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle two or three wide.

There is just something about how it feels to race like that. Of course we could have moved the ones in front of us out of the way but often we chose to push them, probably faster than they had ever comfortably gone. Sometimes we would run entire heat races and hardly change places from the way we lined up. It was, to say the least, very exhilarating for us, the drivers, and the fans to watch.

I don’t know, maybe that’s one of the reasons I like restrictor plate racing at both Daytona and Talladega. Although my experience was quite different and at a much reduced speed, I can relate to what the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers experience – well at least a little, depending on how you look at it. With the addition of the stages (and of course those lower downforce packages I keep mentioning) the Super Speedway races have become even a little more intense than they were before.

There are a lot of things that can and do happen in restrictor plate races and one of those is the “Big One.” Sometimes there is more than one “Big One” and they can happen at any time. All it takes is a driver miscalculation, an overreaction to turbulence or someone else’s miscalculation or an equipment failure like a blown tire or something equivalent.
Fans generally don’t mind the “Big One” because it is part of the action they like to see. As long as no one gets hurt, fans like a good wreck and on a Super Speedway one wreck can take out up to half the field or more.

Drivers, crews and owners generally don’t like the “Big One” because it generally costs them big time. For a driver, the cost is usually lost points and if they’re in the playoffs that cost can be great. For the owners it is usually expensive and the cost is at least one car and maybe more if they own a multi car team. When you look at it that way, it can up to a lot of dollars fast.

Since this is the second race in the round of twelve, Talladega could be bad news for any one or all but one of those in the round of twelve hoping to move on to the round of eight. The only driver that really has no pressure on him is Martin Truex Jr. He is already qualified for the round of eight since he won last weekend. The other eleven need to have a good strong finish or win. If they have problems or get caught up in a “Big One” their chances for moving on could be greatly influenced in a negative way.

Of the ones still hoping to move on to the round of eight, some of them could totally change from being in to being out and needing to win next week depending on what happens on Sunday afternoon at Talladega. One of the biggest problems for those still in the playoffs is that their playoff future can be totally affected by what happens to them at Talladega. If they come away unscathed with a good finish or with a win, they will likely have a good shot at moving on. If not, well… I guess you know the answer to that one, huh?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 14, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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