Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

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I’ll take a green-white-checkered finish any day over seeing a race end under caution

The last win for Richard Childress Racing at Talladega came in 2000 by Dale Earnhardt. I attended that race and I can vividly remember to this day how no one in the grandstands sat down once during the entire event. People in Alabama take their racing seriously.

The three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish turned the Aaron’s 499 into the Aaron’s 532, but I’d rather put up with the delays caused by the late-race wrecks than see the winner cross the finish line under a caution. Especially after watching almost 500 miles of racing.

What a difference a spoiler can make. Could anyone have asked for more lead changes? A bigger restrictor plate and the demise of the rear wing gave us one of the most exciting Talladega races I can remember. The two-car drafting and a record number of leaders and lead changes made what is usually the less-exciting midsection of the race more interesting. And, fortunately, no one got airborne. It seems that the spoiler is having the right effect on the quality of the racing.

I suppose that somewhere someone is grumbling that restrictor plate racing is just a wreckfest. But isn’t it up to the drivers to avoid creating wrecks? The drivers seem to be able to race most of the event without the carnage we saw in the final laps. Sure, restrictor-plate racing creates tight racing that makes wrecks harder to avoid. But you can’t have a chance to win if you cause the “Big One.”

Talladega is the great equalizer. It allows for drivers who normally don’t run in the front to lead a few laps. It was great to see Sam Hornish, Michael Waltrip, Robby Gordon, Elliott Sadler and David Ragan spend a little time in the lead. That kind of unpredictability is what’s needed in the era of Hendrick domination.

Aaron's 499 finish

It looks like the Gordon-Johnson feud is real. At least from Jeff Gordon’s perspective it is. Gordon says he’s close to the ‘boiling point.” How often have you heard Gordon talk like that? Now the series heads to Richmond where racing is a true contact sport and emotions can boil over like a volcano in Iceland. Cinch up your belts, Jimmie.

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