Talladega is a super speedway. It was made for speed… well that is until in NASCAR’s opinion and in the name of safety the speeds became too great for everyone to remain safe whether talking about drivers or the fans. There’s something about the cars going well over 200 mph that makes them want to become airplanes and fly into the stands or elsewhere. Even though technology has reduced the dangers of the higher speeds at the real super speedways like Talladega and Daytona, the restrictor plates are still used to limit the speed of the Cup cars and there are pro and con arguments about their continued use.
The drivers often mention they don’t like them because they just can’t pass when they want to even though NASCAR has made numerous changes to the cars to improve the racing. The fans sometimes complain they don’t like the restrictor plates because often during the race the drivers fall in line and play follow the leader for many laps. If someone does manage to break away along with a small group, they can generally pull away as that small group for a while but those behind them generally can work together to catch up. Probably the biggest complaint I hear personally is that they run around for most of the afternoon waiting for the last 10-20 laps while planning their last 2 lap strategy for the end of the race.
As a fan, I like restrictor plate racing for the most part. One of the several things I like about it is how it makes the racing closer than it would be normally because of how the draft works. If someone loses the draft, they drop like a rock until they can join up with someone (or several someones) to be able catch back up.
As a former local short rack stock car driver, I liked those races where the lineups would cause us to run lap after lap, door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper. (Of course I do have to admit I liked it much better when I was either out front or in the second or third row.) Some of the most exciting races I remember were the ones where we would run many laps and no one could move forward or fall back. If you were slower than the one in back of you, they would push you making you go faster. If you were faster than those in front of you, you did the same thing. It was a lot of fun but could get pretty intense, too.
Sometimes – I’m speaking as a fan again – the middle of the race can become a little bit boring if the field decides to kill some laps by running in single file for an extended period of time. There absolutely nothing less exciting than watching 40 fast cars running in single file just knocking out laps until it gets closer to a pit stop or crunch time. For a fan watching from the stands or on TV, the two and three wide racing for an extended period generates much more enthusiasm. Even though it may appear not much is going on, it is at those times people begin to wonder if something might happen to cause a “Big One” like a blown tire or loss of control by one or more of the drivers. It is that intensity of the two and three wide racing that puts many people on the edge of their seats, well, that is until it comes down to the last laps.
I did find it a bit unexpected and interesting that the Toyotas didn’t show up at all in the top ten or twelve during the practice sessions Friday afternoon with the strength they’ve shown over the last few weeks or so. I just didn’t expect to see mostly Chevys and Fords filling in those top positions in the practice. Be that as it may, I do expect to see at least a couple of the Gibbs Toyotas to make themselves known on Sunday afternoon during the race.
It is just so hard to pick a winner in a restrictor plate race and the easiest thing for this fan to do is to not pick one at all and just see what happens. I don’t often like to choose the path of least resistance so I do choose to pick those I think will be contenders when it comes time for the checkered flag to drop at the end of the Geico 500 at Talladega. I do have some favorites I would like to see win but I don’t just want to name those I’d like to see win. I’d much rather pick one and either be right or wrong about it do I can brag a little or hope nobody remembers which one I picked.
This being Talladega and considering the practices and qualifying, I really think it will be one of about four drivers. Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliot and Dale Jr. are right there at the top of my list. I’m going with Dale Jr. to win it but I must admit it is hard choice between those four at least from my view.
It doesn’t really matter which of the 40 drivers I pick to win because this is Talladega and, as with any restrictor plate race, if they’re still in it when it’s time for the checkered flag to drop they still have a chance to win it…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 30, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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