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Big wreck or not, that was an entertaining race

By admin | October 7, 2012

By Richard Allen

Coming off of a string of less than exciting races that featured little drama and very few green flag lead changes, NASCAR certainly got an event filled with intensity and suspense at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon. Cars ran side by side throughout most of the day on the 2.66 mile track and the race winner was in question right up to the final turn.

Of course, the major highlight of the day was a massive pileup on the final lap that assured Matt Kenseth of the victory and left more than half of the 43 car field with significant damage. But without that destructive happening, this race would have still offered a great deal to talk about.

I know many haters of restrictor plate racing on the big tracks at Talladega and Daytona will argue that this form of racing is nothing more than synthetically manufactured competition. That is true in the sense that all cars are limited in terms of the air allowed into the engine, and thus, the machines are made more equal than they might be under normal circumstances.

That said, however, a race such as the one held on Sunday is far superior to those that made up the first three rounds of the Chase for the Championship. The events held in Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover were snoozers that featured no one passing no one. At least the Talladega race offered position changes, contrived or not.

An obvious strike against plate racing is the potential for danger that revealed itself on a couple of occasions throughout the 500 mile race even prior to the final lap melee. Some may want to see mangled sheet metal, but to most, the risk of injury to drivers at such high rates of speed is too great to root for such a thing.

Typically, I use this forum to speak out against NASCAR’s over regulation and runaway rule making. But there can be exceptions to everything.

As very much of a purist on most issues, I am not as much opposed to restrictor plate racing as some might guess. I very much remember the time when Bobby Allison’s car almost went into the grandstands at Talladega and understand the necessity of keeping speeds on NASCAR’s fastest tracks in check. And, I somewhat appreciate the requirement for a different skill set in these type of races in the same way I have grown to appreciate road course racing.

So, restrictor plate racing may not offer a perfect solution. But, it was good to see cars passing other cars. That does not happen enough in modern day NASCAR. For that reason, I was entertained by Sunday’s race in Talladega. And that had nothing to do with the wrecks that occurred. With or without the last lap pileup, that event offered drama and intensity not seen in a while.

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7 Responses to “Big wreck or not, that was an entertaining race”

  1. Bill B Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I’ve never liked any rule that increases the crapshoot factor of a race. I don’t like the fact that someone can average a 33.7 finish at the non-restrictor plate tracks for the season and then all of a sudden be a contender just because of the restrictor plates. It’s like having everyone in the nfl have to carry around a bowling ball during the game to create parity.

    With that said, the real issue is the restrictor plates themselves, and NASCAR will NOT get rid of those. So, as a fan, we’ve been giving two choices; a crapshoot pack race, or a crapshoot tandem race. Given those choices I prefer the pack crapshoot to the brokeback racing that requires you to woo another driver to be your partner in order to have any chance. At least the pack is an equal opportunity proposition where everyone gets a chance to play.

    A secondary issue here is the GWC rule in combination with a double file restart. Does that make sense at a track like this? Basically you are setting up a huge wreck. Hell, it takes them a lap just to get up to speed. If it were up to me there wouldn’t be any GWC or double file restarts at any track, but this especially makes sense at Daytona and Talladega.

    If they must have the GWC then maybe it should be changed for those two tracks. Make it one shot at a GWC and five laps instead of two. This would remove some of the urgency and thus lesson the need to try something desparately stupid because there is no time to try anything else. If there is a caution, the race would end under yellow.

    I doubt this will happen because most of the rules NASCAR has enacted since BF took over have increased this crapshoot factor. Lucky Dog, double file restarts, GWC, wave around rule, as well as the chase itself have all increased the probability that the guy who has led the most laps all day, the guy with the 5 second lead before the caution, the guy with the best running car, won’t be the winner.

  2. The Mad Man Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    NASCAR won’t get rid of the “temporary” (temporary being 30 years now) restrictor plate rule because it will cause an increase in their insurance rates. That’s the only reason the restrictor plate is still in existence. Safety has nothing to do with it.

    Based on what I saw Sunday, the plate races only need to be 4 laps long. 2 laps to get up to speed and 2 laps to actually race. Everything else was a wasted expenditure. But as long as Brain Fartz is fat, dumb, happy (and intoxicated) and his wallet is full, he could care less about the quality of racing that actually happens or the millions in damaged race cars that result from the continuing farce.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I feel there should be more cars at Dega, because that is the reason the lack of fans at Dega.

  4. Joe Yager Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Hey Richard, why don’t you strap your butt into one of those cars - or maybe your son - so we can all stand and cheer when the “big one” happens. Who cares if someone gets maimed or killed as long as it’s “exciting”! Restrictor plates are the curse of NASCAR. If that BS is so exciting why did it appear that more than half of the stands were empty? Also, I’m not just a fan - I actually own a race car and have an emotional attachment to our driver and I would never want to see something like that in our stlye of racing. This is just complete ingnorance and arrogance. If the “fans” think this is good racing they’re morons!

  5. Richard Allen Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 8:49 pm


    I’d love to have the opportunity to make more in one weekend than I currently make in a year. I am not trivializing the danger, and I made that point in the column, but there has not been a death in NASCAR’s highest levels since 2001. There have been multiple deaths in my profession(teaching) since then.

    My sons are only 10 and 7. I don’t think they could reach the pedals.

    I address why the stands are so empty on an almost daily basis on this site.

    BTW, don’t just take my word, read Jeff Gordon’s comments published by Jeff Gluck on Gordon is considerably more credible than me.

  6. RacingFan Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    There is a real possibility that several cars hitting the fence at once or in a series will get into the stands at one of the plate tracks. The resulting law suits will mean the end of plate racing. But that will be nothing compared to the fans who suffer or die, and for those who must go on with life without them.

  7. Tyler West Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 11:16 am

    The plate races are all that is left that is worth watching!! Hell, if people don’t like it then go do something else. The rest of the races SUCK!! And the damn sport is so predictable now it makes me crazy. They need to be going faster in my opinion!All these drivers who don’t like need to get a real job with normal pay, until then they need to shut it.