Everyone is excited about Talladega. Well, everyone but me. Put me in the David Poole camp that basically believes that there is no racing going on there, only holding on and hoping for the best.
Even though short tracks (probably because we have so few of them) have come into favor recently, the majority of people I come in contact with love plate racing. When pressed for an answer why, they somehow tiptoe around the violence and talk about the competition and close racing, which by the way leads to the violence. I’m certain I am in the minority for that view.
As one who was there to see Bobby Allison’s car hit the frontstretch catch-fence and nearly go into the crowd, I understand the need for plate racing even if plates have been replaced by tapered spacers. It has still happened to Carl Edwards and others, but it is less likely. I tend to hold my breath for the worst to happen when I watch a race at what was once known as Alabama International Speedway. Oddly enough, I don’t feel that way at Daytona International Speedway. Maybe it’s the carnage I’ve witnessed at other races at Talladega; or maybe the excitement of a new season tempers my emotions has something to do with it. I always dread watching the races at Talladega, even though I don’t go there anymore.
Back in the 80’s, I once saw Bill Elliott come from nearly two laps down to win going away. I remember Dale Earnhardt winning early in his career, but for some reason, branded on my memory is Larry Smith dying in a crash that looked not so bad. I remember Allison hitting that catchfence and thinking he was going into the crowd. I remember Brad Keselowski punting Carl Edwards, sending him airborne and into the fence.
I’ll watch the race Sunday, but with fear of what might happen. On occasion, a surprise happens. David Ragan, James Hylton, and Jamie McMurray winning when all odds were against them, but holding one’s breath for almost three hours is not my cup of tea. Every time I heard Cale Yarborough say, “Thank the Lord for a good safe race,” as he did after almost every win, I thought of Talladega.
So, like William Caleb Yarborough, I’ll say, “Thanks in advance, Lord for a safe race.” I hope it works.