Talladega has come and gone on Halloween and all that can be said is the fans got a good show. Whether it was racing is up for debate. At least the ‘big one’ never happened unless you consider A.J. Allmendinger flipping through the air at the end of the race.
One or more things are clear. The Earnhardt-Childress engines are the class of the field. Where once Robert Yates was the power king of racing engines, that program, now known was Yates-Roush engines, now takes a back seat. It may be in third place by now with Hendrick in second, for that matter. Not one Ford qualified in the top 15 while the Chevys, Toyotas, and Dodges looked down on them. Of course, racing and qualifying are two different animals with Matt Kenseth running up front until the end, but the end result is what is important and Earnhardt-Childress engines had cars in first, second, and third place followed by two Toyota Racing engines.
The racing, if that’s what you want to call it, was spirited. One driver called it luck that the big wreck didn’t happen, but five wide at times was flirting with disaster. And it didn’t happen. The end result was that Jimmie Johnson amazingly came out of this mess with a bigger lead. With Johnson and teammate Jeff Gordon laying back in the field for most of the race, the television network was able to hear Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, tell him it was time to go and the loyal teammate followed. It pushed the strong Hendrick engined cars to the front and in a position to win. Jeff Gordon thought he had am engine problem and got out of the draft, which proved false. That was probably the only thing that kept Johnson from winning. Gordon discovered that he didn’t have that problem and rallied back to a top ten finish.
That’s another problem. With NASCAR’s rule that once the white flag is shown that the field is frozen on cautions, it becomes almost impossible for the fan in the stands to know who won. Heck, even the TV guys couldn’t figure it out. So, we had two drivers who were running a race having to wait until film or digital photography to determine the winner or the finishing order. In fact, Johnson was listed as the eighth finisher for some time, one place behind his main challenger. After some investigation, Johnson was determined to be the seventh finisher with Denny Hamlin two places behind him. Hamlin instantly went from only two points behind Johnson to 14 points behind. The final determinations were probably accurate, but why not just have a green-white-checker finish so that the fans can actually see who won? I guess that would be too simple.
The argument is that we could have too many starts at a place like Talladega, but isn’t that the point? Why go through all the problem of shotgun starts and making sure folks see the race end without a caution only to have that happen in a case like this? It’s another example of faulty thinking and should be looked at for next season, but it won’t.
Regardless, Clint Bowyer, the guy who won the first race in the playoff system won his second race without penalty and the scoring dilemma continues to exist. Nothing like progress, right?