Talladega After Chatter from Just A Fan’s View

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Hi, everybody… and welcome to the “Just A Fan’s View” Talladega After Chatter.

Well, Talladega proved to be Talladega again. It is one of those places you never know what to expect and this weekend was no different. The race was a good one and the action at the end of the race will make it more memorable than it probably would have been had it just finished with Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski crossing the finish line, tightly tucked together nose to tail with very little excitement, or Carl Edwards spinning across the finish line instead of jogging across it.

There is a lot of talk going on about the last lap incident with Carl and Brad and some of it is sensible and some of it isn’t. From this fan’s view, any time there is a possibility of a 3500 pound race car, traveling near 190 miles per hour, flying up into the stands, everyone one needs to take a good look at the situation and see if everything that can be done is being done to keep all involved safe.

Since the end of the race, I have read and heard a lot of people sounding off on this subject and, of course, it is hard for me to remain silent on the issue, also. I mean, let’s take a look at the situation and consider all sides of it. This is not the time for knee-jerk reactions because, in my opinion, that won’t solve much of anything and I have never known Nascar to react that way in the past. They do a good job of considering all the options and generally do the right thing for “all” involved whether “all” agree or not.

I have reviewed the actual incident many times and here is the way I see it, (and believe me, I know I am by know means a safety expert by any stretch of the imagination.)

First of all, my observation of what happened and why Carl’s car caught so much air was because of several things that are awfully hard to foresee. A few from this fan’s view are:

  • Previous improvements, like roof flaps, did do their job. A close look at the videos shows that the car was beginning to settle back down to the track after the flaps deployed as the engineers would want it to.
  • Unfortunately, Ryan Newman’s car struck the left rear tire and re-launched Carl’s car back into the air and defeated the effect of the roof flaps.
  • The #99 car then went into a slow rotation also defeating any effect from the roof flaps and making the car a wing again.
  • From that point on it was whether the improvements to the fence and wall would stop the car from breaking through and landing in the stands populated by the fans.
  • A lot of smaller debris did go flying into the stands becoming projectiles capable of causing injuries.
  • The reinforced fencing appeared to do its job of kicking the car back onto the track and not into the stands, but one has to wonder, would it have been the same had the car not partially caught the concrete wall also?

I myself cannot answer the last question. I only know that the total integrity of the reinforced fencing, probably fortunately for all involved, was not tested by this incident and we all feel very fortunate that no one was really seriously  hurt.

So the question remains, what can be done and what should be done to make everyone involved more safe and, after instituting those changes, not totally destroy the appeal of the restrictor plate tracks?

At this point I would like to offer Just THIS Fan’s View…

I know I am not the only one that will think these things but I do want to express myself and give my thoughts on a few possible improvements that don’t require major changes to the track, the race or the cars.

  • The first, is pretty obvious, but I think they should consider the possibility of increasing the size of the roof flaps  (especially at Talladega) and possibly even adding  some additional flaps on the sides and rear of the cars. (I have no idea what effect they will have but it is possible they could enhance the down force and increase the reduction of speed more quickly.)
  • There is discussion of more strenuously, or differently, enforcing the rules for blocking, bump drafting and dropping below the yellow line. I agree, this is something that can be done and changes neither the car nor the track but might offer some new challenges to the race officials.
  • Re-evaluate the fencing to be sure it can remain structurally sound even with a direct impact of one, or more, cars. I stress the “or more” statement because it appears to me as an observer that the first car to make contact essentially makes the fence questionable for stopping any others that might do the same in a multiple car incident and with more than one car airborne.
  • Re-evaluate the height of the fence. The #99 car  did gain some additional altitude after the contact with the #39 car. It is possible there needs to be more height, just in case, and perhaps more extension of the fence curving over the track also.
  • A second fence of some sort should be considered. This second fence would be more for catching the flying debris that comes off the cars from impacting the first fence. It needs to be structurally sound to stop the debris but hopefully, not necessarily sound enough to stop a car.

Well those are just few suggestions off the top of my head, and, as I said, I am sure I am not the only one considering them.  I am sure there are others and there may be some yet to be thought of.

One thing I am sure of…Nascar will consider all of these and more and will make the right decision. It will be a decision that takes into account the safety of the competitors AND the fans and also considers what makes the restrictor plate tracks appealing.

From conversations with others and listening to the input of the many pundits and commentators, one thing is certain… there are a many opinions about this subject and the subject of restrictor plate tracks in general. Some love them, some hate them and some just tolerate them.

Personally, I love them. Yes, they do have some parts that could be changed but they do have their own appeal. Maybe they should shorten them in the number of laps as they do the road courses. Maybe they should do a lot of things but one thing I know…restrictor plate tracks have their place in Nascar and in the hearts of Nascar fans.

Next weekend is Richmond…What else can I say; even the crew chiefs and the drivers like Richmond.

See ya next time…

Rusty

© April 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman


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