Fix Talladega? Good luck

How did that happen? Final-lap crash mars Talladega.
How did that happen? Final-lap crash mars Talladega.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.


Everyone is talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s calling the Talladega race a “debacle” Sunday night. Between social media and listening and talking to people after the race and after his comments, what I find surprising is how frustrated he really was.


Things got out of control quickly at Talladega. PHOTOS.

I can share his frustration just based off of the fact of how good of a race car he had that day. I think we saw how aggressive he was when he got a lap down to get that lap back in a very old-fashioned manner, being ahead of the leader when the caution came out.

When you combine that with a final restart that probably didn’t go quite as smooth as what he would have liked -- and then getting caught up in that 25-car wreck -- I think you really got an opportunity to see how frustrated he was and how, probably, a lot of these drivers feel when it comes to the fact that it is totally out of your control.

No matter how good of a job you do, you just can’t control some things.

When a Tony Stewart, who is arguably one of the best restrictor-plate drivers in the world, is a catalyst to something going wrong, it shows how once again Talladega and the superspeedway races can bring out the worst in a person’s opinion and attitude at that time.

You listen to Tony Stewart and he was so forthcoming about his creating what happened as he was fighting for the lead on the final lap. Yet the end result, you hear one of the most talented superspeedway racers of our time, and I’m talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr., say I don’t really want to go to Daytona and Talladega -- that just brings into perspective the frustration that we have on these four races each and every time we go there.

I think the saddest part about this is neither Dale Jr., nor anyone in NASCAR, has a solution. How do you fix what everybody is frustrated with?

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Just look back through the history of Talladega – and it seems like this is more related to Talladega than Daytona. How do you give the fans what they’re looking for as far as side-by-side, large-pack racing, yet not have it to where when you make a mistake, you take 20 cars out at one time? I don’t know that you can ever come up with a solution that’s going to make everyone happy.

We’re going two by two with the tandem racing and we had one of the most fantastic finishes in the history of Talladega. Fans didn’t like it.

So what do you do? I feel their pain, but I just really wish there was a solution and I just don’t think there is one out there.

I just don’t think it’s as simple as let the spoiler down, or put stiff front springs in or take away the restrictor plate … It doesn’t fix it. We’ve been through that in the history of this racetrack and the end result is, when it happens, it’s always big. When it doesn’t happen, it’s still exciting. But when it doesn’t happen, the fans a lot of times are not as satisfied.

So I’m listening. The book is once again open on how do you fix something that there just doesn’t seem to be a solution for.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart

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