Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

There are some things that never change about Talladega. We all know it’s big. We all know it’s fast. We all know it’s, well… you know what it is… and did I mention it can be dangerous? Just ask Jamie McMurray about that.

With the high speeds this weekend came rule changes to slow the cars down a bit and it is probably a good thing. Daytona showed the new rules to make the cars faster but they were also quite a bit unstable racing in packs. Now that’s not just this fan’s view but it the view of many of the drivers and others. One thing we don’t need is a return of cars flying into the stands or just flying in any fashion. (Well… that is unless you’re just using the expression of “flying” in reference to speed. We all know that’s okay, especially when it comes to racing.)

That’s one of the reasons fans like Daytona and Talladega so much. They’re called Super Speedways for a reason. At Talladega it is all about the speed. In fact, the speeds have become so high again that NASCAR has reduced the size of the opening in the restrictor plates to reduce the speeds they were reaching. Add to the higher speed, the instability the cars have been experiencing with this year’s rules at the two restrictor plate tracks, and you see what we get – a return to why they came up with restrictor plates in the first place.

It is no secret to any NASCAR driver, crew chief, crew member or fan that flying stock cars can be dangerous and deadly. When it happens on the track away from the stands, it is mostly the drivers that are in danger more than when the cars are facing the right direction, gripping the track. When a car flies into the stands or, at least toward the stands and possibly into or through the fence, spectators of all ages are put at risk. No one wants anyone to get hurt, especially someone in the stands. I think we all understand the thinking when NASCAR takes an action that may reduce speed to keep that from happening. It is for multiple reasons and the most important is safety for all involved.

Yeah, I know there are those that think there should be no restriction of speeds and that everything should be about how fast the cars can go with no concern about the danger to drivers and fans alike. Fortunately there are those that know when something is out of control and when something must be sacrificed. When it comes to the Super Speedways, they sacrificed higher speeds but gained a lot of bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle racing at near two hundred miles per hour. I’m of the opinion the sacrifice was worth the gain and I find Monster Energy NASCAR Cup restrictor plate racing to be some of the best there is. (I don’t think many of the drivers agree with me though.)

Now, I imagine some of you are asking why I think that. Look, I’m a fan that loves the speed aspect of racing as much as anyone. Since I used to drive at our local tracks, I also learned that speed is a matter of perspective. When I would watch the other classes run their races from the sidelines, I was always intrigued by how fast it looked like they were going as they passed by. On the other hand, when I would sit in the driver’s seat of my car, running at faster speeds than the ones I just mentioned, I noticed it didn’t seem we were going all that fast. In my opinion, the perspective from inside the car changes how we process how fast we are going and how fast things are really happening. Because all of the cars are moving at relatively the same speed, the perspective of speed is different. From inside the car – at least to me – everything slows down.

A good example of what I am talking about here is the view on TV from the cameras inside the cars. Admit it. From that view it looks like anyone could do it, right? It almost seems like driving in traffic on the interstate, doesn’t it?

Pay attention to how the perspective changes when a tire blows or cars go spinning out of control from contact or other reasons from those same cameras. Things happen really fast, don’t they? In the same way, because of the laws of physics, a car can fly like and airplane when the speeds are right and it is traveling facing in a direction it wasn’t designed to travel in.

This fan will be watching this Talladega race for a lot of reasons but primarily because I like the emotional intensity of so many cars running at about the same speed and trying to pass each other using all of the tricks brought on by restrictor plate racing. This one should prove to be as interesting and exciting as any for the same reasons Talladega (and Daytona for that matter) are always interesting. The cars are as unstable as ever and yet the racing is always intense. Don’t know about you but I just love restrictor plate racing…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 28, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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