I have waited nearly a full day to digest the abysmal 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega. I’ve tried very hard not to make this article a complete burial and yelling at the sky angry NASCAR fan rant. But, after what I saw yesterday, that will be a tall task. We witnessed, perhaps, the worst Talladega race in history. How can you mess up plate racing at Daytona and Talladega? Well, they’ve figured it out apparently.
Let me get this out of the way first. I do not blame the SHR cars for the strategy they brought to the track this weekend. While it may have been a sound strategy for those four cars it destroyed the competition on the track. Those four cars deciding to stay in a line and not racing one another was a great move for them that I understand. The problem isn’t what they did but with NASCAR for failing to change the rules at Daytona and Talladega after sub-par racing at these tracks the past couple of years.
Can anyone explain to me why NASCAR won’t bring back the roof blade that brought excellent racing to Daytona and Talladega after Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s rant following the abysmal 2000 running of the Daytona 500? Raise the ride heights and make the cars more stable so guys won’t be afraid to make moves and put the blades back on the cars to punch the big hole in the air. The effect of the draft was so great while running that package that no one could just sit out front and dominate a race. The good cars still found their way to the front of the pack and more often than not the best car won these intense and exciting races.
If NASCAR is dead set against bringing back the blade and raising the ride heights they need to have specialized cars for Daytona and Talladega. Take off the spoilers completely, narrow the tires, and take away some of the plate. If they had almost zero grip but tons of power at least throttle response would be a thing and being able to slingshot around another driver would be possible. I don’t mind the pack splitting up and the best cars prevailing. For goodness sake, watching a parade of cars ride around for 188+ laps without being able to pass one another sure isn’t the answer.
The 1000Bulbs.com 500 had a grand total of 15 lead changes in 193 laps. Looking closer, there were actually only four green flag racing passes for the lead. The first occurred on lap 69 when Kyle Busch edged ahead of Kevin Harvick for one lap before Harvick gained the lead back for the next 42 laps before pitting. The next happened at lap 122 when William Byron passed Brad Keselowski for the lead. Keselowski passed Byron back on lap 127. The final green flag racing pass for the lead happened on the last lap when Kurt Busch ran out of gas, surrendering the win to Aric Almirola. So, in 193 laps there were only four green flag passes for the lead in the entire race and the last one occurred due to someone running out of gas.
We’ve never seen anything like this at Talladega and the talking heads will probably spin this into a story about how dominant the SHR cars were and what a feat we witnessed. That’s really all they’ve got to work with for a story about the 1000Bulbs.com 500. Because we sure didn’t see any racing action that would be good water cooler talk.
The 15 lead changes in this year’s race set a modern age restrictor plate era all-time Talladega record for fewest lead changes in a 500 mile event. The only race that actually had fewer lead changes than 15 was a race won by David Pearson in 1973 which had 13 lead changes. In fact, prior to yesterday’s Talladega race there had not been fewer than 25 lead changes since the 1998 DieHard 500 which had 19.
Look, not all races are going to be the best race we’ve ever seen. Also, to NASCAR’s credit, they are trying to implement rules for many races next year which is supposed to make the racing product on the track better. But they better take a long hard look into the current plate package. I know they’ve announced that by Talladega next spring there will be new rules. However the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500, is currently set to be ran under this particular rules package. A package that produced the worst Talladega race in history. It might be a good time to reassess the package heading into Speedweeks right now because I don’t think anyone wants a repeat of this Talladega fiasco.
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