By admin | April 27, 2008
Talladega does not need the “Big One” to be exciting
By Richard Allen
As the laps rolled by in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway two questions began to emerge. First, where is the much talked about “Big One”? And, can the Talladega track have an exciting race without there being a major crash involved?
The answer to the first question was that the “Big One” finally made an appearance, or actually two appearances, but not until the closing stages of the event. On lap 177 the seemingly inevitable crash finally occurred.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte all seemed to arrive at the same place at the same time. Those three along with the cars of Kurt Busch, Martin Truex and Jamie McMurray all received varying degrees of damage in that mishap.
But that’s not all. The “Big One” may have waited until the late stages to crash the party but there was one more metal grinding melee in store.
After the white flag had been displayed no fewer than ten cars were involved in a Turn 1 get together. That crash caused the caution flag to be displayed and effectively ruined any dash to the finish line that may have been in the offing.
With question one answered let us turn our attention to question #2. Could there be an exciting race at the Alabama track without a massive crash? Well, there could have been. For 176 laps Sunday’s race proved there does not have to be fire, smoke and flipping for a race to have plenty of edge of the seat excitement.
The Aaron’s 499 was filled with 2,3 and even 4 wide racing for the better part of the day. Add to the mix that there were green flag pit stops, always an adventure on restrictor plate tracks, which helped bring the drama to a high level.
What’s more, those late crashes actually took away from the excitement.
What if Junior, Stewart and the others had not sustained damage and had been near the front fighting for the win? That would have been a crowd pleaser for sure.
What if that last lap wreck had not occurred? Perhaps a side by side duel to the finish line would have taken place.
On a personal note, I have always been more than a little irritated to hear those who know very little about racing claim that the sport is only popular because people want to see crashes. There are probably those who do go to see that sort of thing but it is probably no higher a percentage than people who go to other sporting events hoping to see a player get injured.
I have never gone to a track hoping to see a pile up. I like to see good, hard racing right to the finish line and I believe the vast majority of fans feel the same way. Sunday’s race in Talladega almost proved that could happen without wrecks. I, for one, would like to have seen it play out that way.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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