First of a I love Talladega. There is something so breath takingly amazing about standing on the photo tower there and watching 43 cars go roaring by at 200 mph in a huge pack. It's pretty awesome. But I have to admit, since watching my favorite Indy car driver killed in a crash last season my outlook on the sport has changed. It really makes you weigh great racing vs actual human lives.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who is practically a god in racing, and particularly in Talladega, called Sunday's race a blood sport. And I for one agree.
"I don't even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year," he told the AP. "But I ain't got much choice."
When those two Superspeedways were built back in 1958 and 1968 respectively, it was all about promoting speed. At the time of Talladega's construction, cars were going maybe 135 mph on tracks outside of Daytona and aerodynamics were not a big part of the sport. The big wide track gave drivers a chance to really wide open and show what they can really do.
That is not the case today.
Cars routinely hit close 200 mph at Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas and the like and unrestricted could hit maybe 240...250 at Daytona and Talladega. So NASCAR restricts the speeds, making all the cars pretty equal by slowing them down, but also creating another danger. "The Big One" caused by cars running wide open, too close and too many of them to prevent it.
"There has been a last-lap wreck in like 90 percent of these things for the last four years with this car," said Earnhardt. "Somebody needs to change it."
I am not advocating getting rid of these iconic track, not by a long shot. But it is probably time to think about reconfiguration. Lots of track are doing it to promote better racing, maybe it's time to change these two for another reason, safety.
"When you look at the bigger picture is that really what caused it?" asked Jeff Gordon. "Tony is a guy that takes blame for things and you've got to respect him for that, but I think there is a little more to it."
Or a lot more. At the very least, this track has very little to do with talent, and more to do with luck. And for that reason, it has no place in the chase for me. I'd rather see a road course, at least then there is more driver skill on display. But I know most of the fans and at least one driver disagree.
"I feel like we walk a line in this sport between daredevils and chess players," Brad Keselowski told the AP back in February. "When we come to Daytona and a track like this, we're maybe more on the daredevil side of the line. And then we go other places where I'd say we're more on the chess-player side of the line. I think it's important to have tracks like this that maybe average it back out a little bit."