By admin | October 19, 2013
By Richard Allen
I only saw the final four laps of Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race from the Talladega Super Speedway. That was enough.
The three-and-a-half laps leading up to the finish provided some great racing as three pairs of trucks raced in three-wide formation while they toured around the high-banked 2.66 mile track. Unfortunately, the final half-mile or so saw the race transform from exciting to horrifying as trucks spun, rolled and slammed through the tri-oval portion of the massive facility.
If this were a one time thing, it could possibly be looked at as an oddity or a departure from the norm. Instead, however, these type of wrecks are in fact the norm on this track. As a matter of fact, it would be somewhat difficult to recall a race held at Talladega in which there wasn’t at least one multi-car crash, often involving cars slamming hard into each other and/or a wall as well as flipping over.
At some point, the realization has to be made that it is the track that’s responsible for the mayhem. And this is coming from a writer who has in the past written columns on how exciting the racing at Talladega can be. But, I have come to that realization mentioned earlier in this paragraph.
Some who read this may want to point to restrictor plates as the cause of the trouble. The plates are merely the offspring of the track. If the track wasn’t shaped as it is, there would be no need for the plates.
Some who read this might be tempted to blame the drivers. But many of those who blame the drivers for the wrecks are the same ones who would scold drivers for being boring and not making more daring moves.
And all of this stated so far does not even address the fact that there was a point on the track where the accident occurred during the truck race that did not have SAFER barriers in place. Kyle Busch slammed hard into a portion of the wall near the start/finish line that was not equipped with the energy absorbing protectors.
I’m not sure what the changes to the track need to be, but there needs to be some sort of change before the worst happens.
Some have suggested lowering the banking. I’m not sure that’s the answer because it would have cars roaring into a turn at near 200mph with a wall looming right in front of them without banking to assist the turning of the car. Also, simply lowering the banking would run the risk of crating a track similar to Pocono, and that wouldn’t exactly make for an exciting show.
Some say to remove the plates all together. In and of itself, that’s just ridiculous. Cars would be going around the track at 230-240mph. Bobby Allison proved that it doesn’t take speeds anywhere near that high to have a disaster.
Another possibility might be to turn the facility into a road course. This might be the best option as this form of racing seems to produce some of the best competition in NASCAR during this era in which clean air is king on many oval and ‘cookie cutter’ tracks.
And don’t bother arguing that any move to change the track will hurt attendance. Anyone who says such a thing has not looked very closely at any of the recent races held at the track. There appear to be more empty seats than filled ones in the events from the track that I’ve seen, so what would making a change hurt in terms of attendance?
I’m not sure what the answer is for the Talladega Super Speedway other than there needs to be consideration into a drastic change of some kind. What the track offers up now is exciting…until the next ‘big one’ happens.
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