The Pressure Is On At Talladega

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is always one thing predictable when the NASCAR Cup teams visit Talladega. Yeah, that’s right; you got it. It is unpredictable and it is one of the places on the NASCAR circuit that just about anyone in the starting lineup can win and that means, just about anyone can win. Now, it’s not likely that the most unexpected driver WILL win but it does mean even the least likely one of them CAN win depending on how things go on that last lap to take the checkered flag.

So, is that why the Super Speedways are so popular? Is that why you have to, at the very least, be there watching when the winner crosses the finish line and takes that checkered flag? Yeah, I do believe that has something to do with it and it usually proves out to be those final seconds of the race is when the winner either makes his final move or something happens to make taking the checkered flag a gift to an unsuspecting survivor.

Sure, I know there are those that use the old line of, “You have to be in it, to win it,” but I also know there are those that just happen to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of those final seconds when complete chaos breaks out. It wasn’t because of anything in particular they did, other than survive the race to the end, and it wasn’t because they had the superior equipment. It was because the race, basically, fell into their lap. (Hmmm… I think some call that racing luck and others, well, they just call it being lucky.)

I have to admit, there is something about Super Speedway racing that somehow manages to keep your attention. I also have to admit, there are times when the racing at Talladega (and Daytona for that matter) can become completely boring in the middle of a stage.

I’m not sure why I feel that way, but I do have a theory of my own. I’m sure you might be weary of me bringing up when I used to race but, I remember the nights when we ran lap after lap, door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper. For us drivers, it was intense to run like that and do some pushing and shoving to get the slower cars in front of us to move faster than maybe they ever had so we could open a gap to pass. We didn’t want to spin them out or cause them to wreck but we did want to win.

Sitting in the car, paying attention to all that was going on around us, front, sides and back, took a lot of concentration and focus. More often that not in those situations, the slower cars managed to hold the faster cars at bay and often we would all finish in the order we started. For those in the driver’s seat, it was intense fun. I do not know what it was like for the fans in the bleachers but either they enjoyed the same intensity we did or they might have been a bit bored since no one could advance or pass. I can only imagine they enjoyed the race because of the close racing and intensity.

I often find when I watch a Super Speedway race, there many times during the race my stomach is in knots just like on those nights I raced at the short tracks. I think that is why I like watching Super Speedway races all the way to the end. It’s because of those unknowns about what might happen at the very end. It’s about not knowing who might win until they actually cross that finish line.

So, just like we saw in the Round of Sixteen, the second race of this round is a place where the pressure is on to make up for bad performances in the first race of this round. Those that managed to pull out some good results a couple of weekends ago, fell below the cutline as of last weekend at Las Vegas. That makes this race at Talladega this weekend all the more important. From the talk going around, it appears really very few drivers are looking forward to the next two races. Well, that is other than Denny Hamlin since he is already in the round of eight with two races to basically coast and be out from under the pressure to perform.

Since this is Talladega and next weekend is the Roval, I just don’t see where anyone can afford to have a bad race. Except for a few, the points are just too tight and a bad race could mean not being able to move on to the next round. Talladega is a place where the unexpected happens with regularity and there is often the surprise winner and the chance of being involved in the Big One even when a driver is doing everything right.

Will this be a race that one of the non-playoff drivers wins? Will this be race that takes someone’s chance to move on to the next round away? Will this be a race that guarantees someone’s spot in the next round? All of these are great questions and I do wish I could give an opinion of which one is going to come to pass but I can’t. That’s why we’ll all be watching until those final seconds at the very end when one of these questions will be answered…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 2, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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