Superspeedway racing, chaos be thy name.
Gone are the days of incident-free events. Gone are the day of overly-dominant drivers mastering pack racing and the draft. These days it’s now a matter of carnage, mayhem, and wild, wild finishes. What’s more important, though, is that NASCAR finds a way to maintain this package. Ergo, leaves it alone and absolutely does not tweak it in any way, shape, or form.
Case in point: Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event. There were 46 lead changes among 19 drivers, nine cautions, a few major scrapes (including a sick kickflip from the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan) that thankfully yielded zero injuries, and an astounding 11,564 green flag passes (which equated to 79.8 passes per green flag lap).
On top of that, with NASCAR’s Playoff season in full effect, there were several storylines coming into the race that the NASCAR community were paying close attention to, such as whether or not Chase Elliott could rebound from his last-place finish at Dover, whether Ford drivers Clint Bowyer or Ryan Blaney could finally get a win this season, or if Elliott’s Hendrick teammate William Byron could seal the deal and score his first win. In the end, it was Blaney who advances to the Round of Eight by a 0.007-second win over Ryan Newman.
Of course, considering Talladega’s nature, it’s only fitting that the Playoff’s current storylines played a role in Sunday’s race. But with regards to the chaotic nature of superspeedway racing, it’s a must that NASCAR maintains the status quo when it comes to Talladega and Daytona. That isn’t to say that every race on the schedule needs to be full of chaos and anarchy from green flag to checkered flag. But Talladega and Daytona are both revered as some of the best racing all season long – they carry that weight of providing the best action in NASCAR.
That carries more weight when it’s taken into consideration that of all the races of season, the majority of which are held on mile-to-mile-and-a-half race tracks where Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas regularly dominate, superspeedway racing feels like the last bastion of equality in the sport. Literally anyone who is anyone can win, from David Ragan to Justin Haley. For years NASCAR has been looking for a way to keep that aspect in the sport; with this current superspeedway package they may have found that sweet spot.
However, NASCAR has a way of fixing what isn’t broken. It’s something the NASCAR community is used to and in some cases expects, but ultimately it isn’t welcomed that often. So when the NASCAR world spoke up to say that Sunday’s race was nothing short of amazing, they can only hope that NASCAR heard them well enough to go on and act on their critiques. And by act, they really mean not act at all.
NASCAR has something with the new package and the tapered-spacer engine. Therefore, once again, NASCAR should not work to change that. Unless cars are regularly being launched into the crowd, stop trying to fix what isn’t broken. The fans loved it, the NASCAR community as a whole loved it. Sure, there were some angry faces in the crowd, but that’s every superspeedway race; pack racing is known to be very unforgiving in nature. That’s been the story for years.
Sunday was how Talladega was supposed to be run, and NASCAR did a fine job. So until further notice, the superspeedway product is fine as it is.