So, what did we learn from Talladega?
Well, we learned it still provides the most exciting racing in NASCAR. Forget about the PVR, I watch every minute, every lap, and every lead change. Who is going to win? Watch the final corner of the final lap and just maybe you might have an idea. You might even watch the end and still need a replay to figure out who finished first.
We learned that was exactly what needed to happen Sunday afternoon as the big wreck on the final lap froze the field, but where and when? We watched as A.J. Allmendinger took flight and laid an all mighty dinger on the wall before coming to rest. We watched to see if Kevin Harvick was still in front, but when they checked the tape it was Clint Bowyer a third of a car length ahead when the caution came out.
We learned that Bowyer didn’t need no replay to be sure he was going to be shaking the suds in Victory Lane. As the officials watched the tape, we watched Bowyer burn his donuts. For the 31 year old, it marks his fourth career win and second of the season. Sure, it may be too late for this season, but it comes as a reminder that he promises to be in the hunt again in 2011.
We learned that Dale Earnhardt Jr could drive the big track like the Junior of old. We also learned that sometimes even masters of the bump draft can screw up, as Junior ruined his day, that of Jeff Burton, as well as Jamie McMurray’s. Oops.
We learned that David Reutimann has become a darn good driver. He has been one to notice most of this season, and he had a whole lot of television exposure during the race last weekend. He wound up fourth, right behind Juan Pablo Montoya and the two leaders.
We learned a cut tire early can finish you. The lack of cautions kept Tony Stewart from getting back on the lead lap until the end, where he finished 31st.
We learned that, unless you are Stewart, you can lose the draft, fall off the lead lap, yet still manage to get things back together in the end to be ninth, two positions behind Jimmie Johnson. Denny Hamlin falls 14 points behind the defending champ, with Harvick 38 away, but things could have gone much worse for the Pied Piper. Just ask Tony.
We learned that two car drafts was the way to go, and go they did. It provided the push that determined the top four on the day. It could have helped Johnson move further ahead, but team mate Jeff Gordon begged off, citing his engine was blowing up. It didn’t. Jeff would wind up between Johnson and Hamlin, in eighth, when it was all over.
We learned that one may qualify 13th for Talladega, but when things get started, they get the heck out of Dodge. As they came to the line, Jeff Fuller yanked his Toyota out of line and faded to the back before the green flag waved. The Joe Nemechek owned entry only lasted two laps, leaving due to a rear end problem. Sure, I believe that. Don’t you?
We learned that Talladega is the bull riding event of this rodeo. It is the Australian rules football game of NASCAR. It is where, when asked if they would like to participate, grown men look at each other and exclaim, “Hell no!” There is something about watching people do things we don’t have the guts to do ourselves. I’m not sure I would like to run those high banks in a go-cart all by my lonesome, never mind in the middle of a 43 car field going 200 mph with my competitors within a yard from each of my fenders. I’m just content to watch.
We learned that you should not drive your pick-up truck with your new Speed Energy drink logos upon it to an event sponsored by Amp Energy drink. Robby Gordon did and his truck got towed off. It should be a fun time for all those Chevrolets, Dodges, and Toyotas that pull into Homestead for the Ford 400. Load ‘em up boys!
Happy Birthday to my sons, who turn 16 on Wednesday. They have started taking their turns behind the wheel. Neither are ready yet for Talladega, but neither is their dad.
Three races to go to determine a champion. When they were in Texas this spring, Hamlin won, Johnson was second, Harvick seventh. A year ago, Hamlin was second. In the spring of 2009, Johnson was the runner-up. Something tells me we will still have a lot yet to figure out after they get done with Texas this Sunday. Enjoy the week.