I never lie when it comes to this particular race in the playoffs, because the unknown always fears me. The biggest thing about this race is that the driver isn’t in control of his own fate. The trust factor among the other competitors is enormous because, like we’ve seen in the past, one miscue, and it’s all over.
That being said, the teams do have a bit more control of these cars than they did even a year ago.
Adding this new rules package to the big tracks of Daytona and Talladega has really changed the racing. There is still the idea of having the lead car being the control car in either lane, like we saw in the Daytona 500, but the reaction time of the car to the driver is a lot quicker with these taller spoilers and the wicker. So, I expect the teams to have a lot more control in how they react to deciding on what lane to be in, what driver to follow, etc.
That still doesn’t change the fact this is still Talladega, and in one moment everything can change for every driver.
The only driver with nothing to lose is Kyle Larson. Having the win in the bank means he could start the race and park the car if he wanted to, and he still had a position in the next round. This is also an advantage for all the other teams because with Talladega as the second playoff race, rather than the round-ending race, means anything that could potentially happen could be overcame next week. Having Talladega as the deciding race meant anything that could knock a racer out of the playoffs…did just that.
Don’t get me wrong, this place still worries me all the time, whether it’s May or October. I am terrified of the unknown, not like the unknown of what the Roval was a season ago, but the unknown of wondering when something will happen.
And remember, I’m one who has actually been to this track and got to experience a race that saw almost 90 lead changes, and at the time the limit on overtime attempts. But no one really knew what the race ultimately would become because of the insanity that happened. The only good thing that came of that race was the fact it happened on my birthday, and I’m not sure about any of you readers, but being at the track, or sometimes in my case the arena, is the best gift one could have that enjoys motorsports.
Although celebrating at Talladega has a whole different feel than any other track in the country.
The only thing I hope for is everyone makes it through this event without being totally torn up, and in the end everyone can say, “onto the next race.” That’s all we can ask for.