Talladega didn’t disappoint though it looked like it would be the same old thing early. Matt Kenseth took off and led 142 of the extended 192 laps and there was Jimmie Johnson closely behind, but as things usually go in restrictor plate racing, the unexpected happened. Just like the first race at this track way back when, a surprise winner emerged and figuring out why is more than this small mind can fathom.
For a change, all the manufacturers seemed to have good cars. Whatever Doug Yates and Jack Roush had done from February until now, the Fords were stout. So were the Toyota’s, as evidenced by Kenseth’s domination of the event, something that seems to be a habit these days. The Chevrolet’s, always a factor were around, but not so much as before. Maybe it had something to do with the early “Big One,” or the strength of the other teams. Regardless, it was Kenseth, Edwards, Johnson, and some minor players all day. How would it end?
Talladega is a crap shoot. That’s not a new thought. Richard Brickhouse won the first race here when it was known as Alabama Motor Speedway. We’ve seen James Hylton and others win here when no one thought they had a chance. The same was true this weekend when David Ragan won. Ragan won here three years ago when he was driving for Jack Roush, but this was a real surprise. In the end, he had to get past a lot of heavy hitters that have a lot more resources than his Front Row Motorsports team made up of volunteers and low paid employees. What happened could only happen at a restrictor plate track where everything is equal. And yet, this team who usually finishes in the 20’s on any given Sunday was up there shooting for a win. I have to admit that I didn’t see it coming. Neither did Edwards or anyone else. Ragan, who once long ago hit everyone in the field including everything but the pace car at Martinsville, made the perfect move with teammate David Gilliland pushing him to the front. It was the perfect storm. And stormy it was
For the second day in a row, NASCAR was faced with rain. In Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, race forced them to use their Rain Titan track cleaner to clear the track for racing. That race ended as darkness approached, and such was the case in the Sprint Cup race. If the race had ended when the rains came, with the race legally finished at halfway on Sunday, Carl Edwards would have won, but just like on Saturday, the sanctioning body insisted on getting as much racing as they could, and drivers complained that they couldn’t see very well. With television cameras looking much better than what visibility really was, the race went on, regardless that 60-70% had already left the facility. For a bunch that preaches safety as much as they do, it seemed a little silly. The race continued with everyone knowing what was going to happen. It did. Another multi-car wreck and more carnage resulted.
I really don’t understand. As much as I was elated that an underfunded team was able to win, I wonder what the thought process was on this day. It was dark and in a misting rain. Was that safe? Hardly, but the race ran until overtime, and I guess it was mission accomplished. How many times have we seen similar situations shorten races because of weather? Did it have anything to do with the fact that International Speedway Corporation owns the track and that they are the speedway arm of NASCAR? I have no idea, but it is food for thought.