Since I am one who does not watch NASCAR, I needed to watch the video of what happened at Talladega on Sunday to fully appreciate the result. That result was race car driver Matt Kenseth winning the race with the help of a 25-car crash occurring in the last lap of the race.
It is one thing to hear and try to picture what a massive NASCAR crash looks like while another to actually see it. I was amazed not only seeing the actual devastation that took place in a matter of seconds but that no one died or was hurt. Another thing that, being an outsider to NASCAR racing, I couldn’t understand is that according to those who follow the sport, you’re nearly guaranteed to have gigantic accidents occur. Who was responsible for the massive pile up and is this something that can be avoided or something that comes with the territory of NASCAR?
Writer Travis Okulski from Jalopnik described watching NASCAR at Talladega is like, “watching cars in a traffic jam for three hours. The difference is they’re going 200MPH. Oh, and you’re nearly guaranteed to have a gigantic accident. Like yesterday when 25 of them crashed at once.” I think that is a great visual of what was happening during Sunday’s race and makes me wonder if this is a common occurrence in NASCAR as a whole or just at Talladega.
The so-called traffic jam is known as pack racing and is endemic to NASCAR’s races at Daytona and Talladega. Since there tracks are fast and large, NASCAR ends up fitting all the engines with restrictor plates. What this does is cuts off airflow to the engine and also reduces horsepower. Cars run in these gigantic packs because this process slows the speeds of the cars. All it takes is for one car to make a wrong move and they will take out the entire field.
While this may explain the technical reason for yesterday’s crash, you still need the one driver who makes the mistake that causes the pandemonium and wreckage. That person was defending series champion Tony Stewart as he took the blame for causing the accident. “I just screwed up. I turned down across … Michael (Waltrip) and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was. I was trying to win the race. Michael got a great run on the bottom, a big head of steam. When I turned down, I turned down across Michael’s race car. Just a mistake on my part that cost a lot of people.”
Though he admitted to causing the pile up, Waltrip was not angry with Stewart and even admitted anyone in his position would have probably done what he did. “I don’t blame Tony at all because anybody in the world would have had to block like that.” Waltrip had a chance to win the race but ended up finishing 25th. “That’s what you had to do on the last lap.”
Jeff Gordon finished second and said that though Stewart’s admission was admirable, he wasn’t responsible for causing the incident. “When you look at the bigger pictures is that really what caused it? Because this type of racing and the way aerodynamics are and the power of these cars, that’s what happens. He added that, “When you lose that momentum, you lose a ton. You’re going backwards in such a hurry and the other guys are coming forward with so much momentum it’s inevitable that those types of things are going to happen.”
Despite who or what was at fault for the 25-car accident at Talladega, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski was happy to finish seventh-place and remained atop of the Chase Standings. There are six races left in the 10-race Chase, with Brad currently in the lead. He is attempting to keep his lead and though his fans may have felt his driving was not as aggressive as they wanted to see on Sunday, it kept him out of the 25-car crash and keeping in first place in the Chase Standings.
Keselowski went into the race with the goal of winning but also realizes he needs to drive smart if he is to not lose his standing. Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe said, “We didn’t win and that’s what our goal is, but next was not to lose too many points to the guys we’re racing for this championship. We gained on them. So that all-around is a great day for us from that standpoint. Now we’ll go back to racing and put things back in our control and continue to do the things we’ve been doing to get to here.”
If Keselowski is to be successful in his quest for the Sprint Cup, he will have to continue to be smart and to do what he can to not cause or be a part of car crashes that occurred at Talladega.
Talladega Crash Video
Tony Stewart leads the final lap, but contact with the No. 55 in Turn 3 collects majority of the field, while Matt Kenseth escapes for the victory.
Talladega Crash Yesterday
NASCAR Talladega wreck 2012.
Yesterday’s Talladega Crash claimed the cars of Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and more than two dozen other NASCAR drivers on Sunday afternoon