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Monday, November 2, 2009

The new Talladega: Dangerous, boring, ridiculous

I feel sorry for anyone who actually sat through the entire live broadcast of Sunday’s race
at Talladega, because that wasn’t a race.

You could call it many other things: A parade, an accident waiting to happen, a complete farce.

But it wasn’t a race.

It’s ironic that a tribal medicine man was recently brought to Talladega to clear up some bad mojo that was allegedly lingering there, because he really should have gone to the NASCAR headquarters in Daytona to do his dance. Brian France, Mike Helton and crew have ruined this race, plain and simple.

Newman said it best after his wreck: "No one watching enjoys this. Well I hope not, if you do. you just don't belong here"

Jeff Gordon had a good one, too: “At least we were able to run out of gas on time, so we could get to the pits, get back out on the track and destroy our car.”

Then there is Mark Martin, whose title hopes were ruined by the stupidity that Talladega has become. He wanted to rip NASCAR a new one, but he didn’t. He’s too nice. “Congratulations to Jamie McMurray. That’s about all I know about this race” was what he said, but you could tell he wanted to cuss them out.

Two things remain true about Talladega.
1. Plate racing remains dangerous, and one of these wrecks will eventually kill someone again. There has to be another way to slow the cars down without creating these tight packs. (And while we’re at it … can we get some roof flaps that actually work and stop the cars from flying?)
2. The new rule restricting bump-drafting basically forced the drivers to run single-file, for fear of being penalized. This begs the question that if they’re not allowed to race, why should the fans watch?

There is a terrible new formula for the race. 150 laps of parade, followed by 30 laps of scary crashes. I seriously thought Newman was dead (luckily his radio was just disconnected), and if he had died then NASCAR would have been to blame for creating the situation.

I’m putting this race on the level with the restrictor plate race they held at New Hampshire, as it was one of the worst races I’ve seen in the dozen years I’ve been watching the sport. And I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Jimmie wraps it up
In other news, write Jimmie Johnson’s name on the trophy. Under the previous points system, both Tony Stewart (-7) and Jeff Gordon (-72) would be realistically in the title hunt. As it stands now, Johnson leads Mark Martin by 184 points, and Gordon by 192. It’s official. This Chase is a dud, and stinks like a manure farm.

Somehow, Johnson’s strategy of staying in back all day, then moving up the front late, worked for him. He finished in the top-10 and all his competitors wrecked. Congrats Jimmie, but you’re boring me to tears with this. Four straight titles is just sick, and I don’t think it’s good for the sport.

Surprising finishes
Talladega always has some interesting finishes, as guys who don’t normally do well will have solid days if they avoid trouble. The biggest surprise this time is Robert Richardson Jr., who drove the #36 car of Tommy Baldwin racing to 18th in his first Cup race ever. Reed Sorenson was 16th, Bobby Labonte was 10th in the #71 TRG Motorsports car, Elliott Sadler was 9th in his first race in a Ford for RPM and Michael Waltrip was 7th.

Don’t blame Brad
Lastly, a lot of people online have been critical of Brad Keselowski, saying it was his fault that last big wreck happened. They would be wrong. Just like in the spring, NASCAR’s rules forced another bad wreck. I could see why some people might jump to this conclusion, given Brad’s recent history of aggressive driving at other tracks, but it’s not that simple. Brad got pushed and hit another car, and that’s not his fault. It’s the fault of an organization that forces dangerous restrictor plate racing on the drivers.


Anonymous Ed said...

What we need now is a good Jeremy Mayfield story to divert our attention away from the Calamitious 500 Powered by NASCAR (aka Talladega). Oh we have one...ole Jeremy stiffing mo people. Hmm but this time he chooses to tangle with the Real Dhiel. Ha. You know Jeremy gotta be on drugs when he tries to stiff the same lawyer that wanted us to believe Jeremy was being persecuted from Big Bad NASCAR.

But back to your point. So using the "boring" word by the media always bothers me. I say loudly get yo butt in one of those seats and do it for a while. But alas that rings hollow because sure as lil green apples are green some media type is gonna type "boring" in the same sentence as he/she does "dangerous" and "ridiculous", which just doesn't make sense. So Matt if I am to take your words as written you would rather not have a follow-the-leader "boring" race, but have a 40-car pack inches apart at 190 that sure as red delicious are red will bounce off of each other and creat the carnage we saw Sunday? Is that your position? I would say "you can't have it both ways" at Talladega but I know it would fall on deaf ears. Just how does you think the race at Dega should be run? I mean for 20 years no one has solved the problem yet. The media like to say "there has to be a way" but no engineer-media type I know off has had an answer adopted by NASCAR. This i smy solution that no one talks about but yet I don't think it has been aired fully:

When NASCAR went from 427s-429s CI down to 350s to cut speeds everyone screamed it would be bad because of all the inventory. 350s where the law and they made I think 500-600hp off the bat. But since then knowhow has added about 200hp or so. Put 300 CIs in the 4 plate races and let um eat. That should shave 150-200hp off the bat and likely put speedss at 175ish. Now everyone will sqwalk about the expense. But what are the costs now with 1/2 the field demolished and drivers injured? CPAs run those numbers. And just maybe 800hp at most of these tracks ins't what we need anyway. 190 MPH at Texas and Atlanta is getting up there. So maybe 4 plate races and then Atlanta Charlotte Texas Michigan Kansas and Chicago and all of a sudden you have a critical mass. I doubt these 350CI blocks are poured by the manufacturers anyway. Thats my fix. Let's go back in time to get to the future. NASCAR put 305s in the winged Dodges when they thought those cars were unfair and that worked some. Those Dodges made a race of it. Coo-Coo Marlin I think drove one at Daytona and nearly won the 125 race.

My other point. I am sorry Matt but we differ on Keselowski. He is a weapon. This is the 3rd race in several weeks that he has flat run over people (2 Nationwide and Sunday's Cup). I saw the replay over and over and Special (in his own mind) K did not get hit from behind. He hit the 2 car all by his lonesome. It may be a product of Talladega and inexperience but he has just flat ran over people the last few weeks. His ego is bigger than Jeremy Mayfield at the moment and he will be brought down in the Cup series. There are peole that will pull his head off and crap down his windpipe for fun. He won't last driving thru the back ends' of race cars I can tell you that. You have to finess these cars to win. Bullies don't really make it in this sport, ask Jimmy Spencer.

November 2, 2009 at 2:07 PM 

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