DW expounds on the mysterious world of Talladega Superspeedway
MAY 05, 2014 1:17p ET
Goodness, where do I start? It's this way every time we go to Talladega. There's always controversy, things that don't make sense and naturally when talking about Talladega, things that just can't be predicted. Sunday was just like every other time we go there. Things just never change and that's why we love it so much there.
You always hear me talking about the "eye of the storm" and that's back there in the middle of pack where it starts brewing. It's just that pack-racing mentality. The cars are so equal and inches apart while at the same time racing at 200 miles per hour.
I really felt bad for Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski on Lap 14. It was just unavoidable contact. They were heading down into Turn 1. Brad thought he had cleared Danica but obviously he hadn't. The other thing that wasn't going in his favor was that the way the air flows, when you start to pull down into a car, it will pull the inside car closer, so all that combined to send him spinning.
You have to give that young man credit. He did one heck of a job of saving that car after the spin. That could have easily ended up with not only him wrecked out but taking a bunch of cars with him. He did suffer some damage and they lost laps while it was being repaired.
Now if you fast forward to late in the race, I know the Monday Morning Quarterbacks are saying Brad had no business up front racing being six laps down. The guy is paid to race. He was simply trying to get his laps back. Jamie McMurray was five laps down. Brad had to get up front to get one lap back and be ahead of Jamie if and when a caution came out to get the Lucky Dog.
Jamie got five Lucky Dogs yesterday. Barry Landis our NASCAR on FOX producer joked in our headsets that Jamie had a whole litter by the time the race was over. Brad saw Jamie do it and that was Brad's mentality. He wanted to start getting his laps back through the Lucky Dog rule just like Jamie had done all day.
It wasn't that at that point in the race even with his repaired race car that Brad was holding anybody up. He had a very fast race car for one that was damaged. Unfortunately Brad spun out and that's the downside to being up there in the front being so many laps down. He took out some really good cars and eliminated their chance to win the race. I know there are fans of those drivers who are upset with Brad, but I know what he was trying to do and it simply didn't work.
Another driver who had a plan that didn't work was Dale Earnhardt Jr. I know he wanted to be in the front, but he got shuffled back there at the end of the race. He knew, as we all did that when you get near the end of a race, especially at Talladega, there is going to be a caution or two before the race is over.
He was banking on those couple cautions to give him a chance to charge through the field there late in the race and possibly win it. That's what he was thinking. The problem was when he made his run, he got blocked by another car, which broke his momentum and by then it was too late to make a charge. So like Brad, that was Dale Jr.'s strategy and it didn't work.
Jimmie Johnson got into a wreck but the 48 team got him repaired and back out there. Unfortunately for Jimmie, part of the damage affected the rear of the car and took the spoiler out of the air. Sure that makes for a very fast race car but it also makes for a very ill-handling and unstable race car. So Jimmie was up there, too, racing hard and the back end got away from him which caused him to spin and cause a big wreck. So that bit Jimmie.
Look at poor Carl Edwards. He was going into Turn 1 when he realized he had a tire going down. The problem is the tire was going down while Carl was in the middle of the pack. You simply canât get out of the way. We showed the replay of Carl sticking his hand out the window which is a signal to the other drivers that he had a problem. It was too late because things happen in a blink of an eye there. So cars piled into Carl and we had another big wreck.
Back in February, Denny Hamlin had the best car at Daytona. He won everything there was to win leading up to the Daytona 500 and even in that race he finished second. So it was no big surprise to see that 11 car win that race. What a weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing. Their No. 11 Nationwide car with Elliott Sadler won on Saturday and then Denny in the 11 Cup car won on Sunday.
I had picked AJ Allmendinger as one of my dark horses. He didn't let me down and got a great fifth-place finish.
Congratulations to Michael Waltrip Racing. They had Clint Bowyer finishing third and his teammate Brian Vickers finishing fourth. That young kid Kyle Larson continues to shine. He finished ninth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finally got some positive momentum going his way with a great 10th-place finish as well.
Just so many unpredictable things happen every time we go to Talladega. We know something's going to happen. We just don't know to who or when. Look at rookie Brian Scott surprising everyone and winning the pole for the race. That's just an example of how unpredictable that joint is.
I know there are folks upset about the finish of the race. Look, the reality is you can't have cars going 200 mph barreling into debris on the front stretch simply so you can say the race finished under green. It's simply not safe. The leader had already taken the white flag which eliminated the possibility of a green-white-checkered finish. The wreck happened behind the leader after he had taken the white flag.
Give NASCAR some credit for taking their time to analyze the debris on the front stretch before finally deciding it wasn't safe enough to finish the race under green and they put out the yellow flag. Remember at the point of the yellow flag coming out, because there is not the green-white-checkered option, the field is frozen and the finishing order is determined by the what position the cars were in at the last scoring loop.
It was just another situation that it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it. It was unfortunate that the race couldn't end under green, but again, you canât run the risk of more cars being damaged or drivers being hurt when there's that type of debris in the way. It was the right call.
I had a great time. I always have fun at Talladega. As I said on the broadcast, the whole day was just as clear as mud to me. I could see right through it all day long. I'm just kidding. I just threw that out there during the broadcast. It's a saying from way back in the day when you couldnât understand something because the explanation was so convoluted they used to say, "Clear? Or clear as mud?"
Hey, I want to congratulate Camping World for coming back to the truck series. They and NASCAR announced a new seven-year deal. You'll continue to see the truck series on the FOX networks.
Now we head to Kansas and again something new for us. We're going to be racing under the lights for the first time Saturday night. That should be something really special so I'm looking forward to that and then it's off to Charlotte for another Saturday night race â the Sprint All-Star race and that is guaranteed to be a thrill as well. So there's lots of great racing ahead and I for one can't wait.