A necessary race, with unnecessary consequences. That is exactly what Talladega has been, and probably always will be. It is the one track on the circuit that is more dependent on trust among competitors rather than trust in one’s own car. It is not loved, and somewhat respected. It is restrictor plate racing, a necessary evil in NASCAR.
Add in the fact that weather could play a factor, that made everyone a bit on-edge, and drive a bit more nervous and quick than they normally would when it wouldn’t play a factor.
What did that ultimately lead to…carnage.
From Dale Earnhardt Jr. seeing his beloved “Amelia” get destroyed twice in a single race, to three cars going airborne in scary fashion. Slight nudges caused catastrophe that would take out over half the field. Cars that were favorites, ones that spent months in team shops being polished down to be the most aerodynamic pieces of equipment for that track, soon became what looked like crushed beer cans once they are empty of their contents.
One doesn’t win at Talladega, but rather the first one to the line simply survives Talladega.
On this day, for the fourth time in his career and at the same track where he won his first race, Brad Keselowski made it to the checkered flag to add another win to his win total for the 2016 season.
Not one writer chose him to win, and in reality only three had above-average runs, with just one cracking a top-five finish. Let’s look at the standings after a chaotic, bewildering, and in the end ugly GEICO 500:
Ashley McCubbin (365) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 2
Dustin Parks (323) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 1
Sal Sigala Jr. (302) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 1
Ashley Hull (280) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 5
Patti Rodisch (280) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 2
Kara Martin (268) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 1
Mary Jo Buchanan (262) Matt Kenseth finished 23rd – 1
Billy Fellin (257) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 1
Rob Blount (254) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 2
Misan Akuya (253) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 2
Rob Tiongson (243) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 2
Ashley Hobbs (232) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 40th – 1
Klarissa Mitchell (253) Jamie McMurray finished 4th – 1
Stephen Conley (183) Ryan Blaney finished 9th – 0
Next Race: Now that the restrictor plates are being tucked away until early July, NASCAR can get back to the kind of racing that the new aerodynamic package was made for, the 1.5-mile intermediate tracks that make up the bulk of the schedule. Not only that, but the teams will get the chance to do so under the lights at a track that a year ago would host it’s first holiday weekend, although that holiday is about one certain type of individual.
Mother’s Day weekend for NASCAR means taking a trip to the heartland of America, just outside of Topeka, at the Kansas Speedway. Although the race name may have a different tune than a year ago, it is still a Saturday night delight for NASCAR.
Writers, your picks are due by another holiday, because in order to be locked in for the GoBowling.com 400, those picks need to be in by Cinco De Mayo at 10 p.m. ET.