The Frontstretch: Becca's Big Six : Talladega "2" Edition by Becca Gladden -- Tuesday October 10, 2006

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Becca's Big Six : Talladega "2" Edition

Becca Gladden · Tuesday October 10, 2006

 

Each week, Frontstretch Staff Writer Becca Gladden looks at the prior weekend’s Nextel Cup race from a reporter’s point of view, covering the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of the race, the drivers, the TV coverage, even the commercials.  Check back every Wednesday for Becca’s fun and thought-provoking commentary.

Who: Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
All the post-race attention was on Brian Vickers’ uber-controversial last lap punt of Chase contenders Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.— and understandably so. But Gordon and Earnhardt lit a few fireworks of their own when Jeff accused Junior of excessively rough bumpdrafting. Replied Earnhardt: “I pushed Jeff Gordon into the lead five times, and every time I do that, he complains that I’m bumpdrafting him in the corners and blah, blah, blah. So I’m just not going to push him anymore. Besides, every time I help him out, he never gives it back in return. That’s why he doesn’t have too many friends out there. I was trying to be his only friend besides his teammates, who are kind of paid to draft with him.” Ouch.

What: A new surface and smaller plates.
There were lots of questions about how the newly resurfaced Talladega track would affect racing, and that question was answered on Friday when Jeff Gordon posted a 198.689 mile-per-hour practice lap. At 6:30 AM Saturday morning, NASCAR officials called a crew chief meeting to hand out smaller restrictor plates in order to bring down speeds, which they considered borderline unsafe. Many teams were upset by the move, particularly during an impound race like Talladega, where there are no practice sessions after qualifying…but the quality of racing Sunday was high, showing that the new restrictor plate did what it was supposed to do despite the craziness surrounding the change.

When: On lap 137.
You knew it was coming, and despite a very surprising 72 caution-free laps at the start of the race, the Talladega “Big One” was inevitable. Ten drivers were involved, including Chasers Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, along with Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Petty and Sterling Marlin. Hamlin had other problems as well and took the biggest points hit among Chase
contenders, finishing 21st to fall from second to fifth in the standings.

Where: At Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
That’s the location of this weekend’s race, where track chairman Bruton Smith has had to resort to providing extra security for Brian Vickers, stating, “We want to make sure Brian has an uninterrupted weekend here and that he is able focus on his driving duties.  We will offer security escorts in and out of the Speedway and anywhere he feels he needs our assistance.” Come on, race fans – passion is one thing, but let’s keep it under control.

Why: Because of really bad race coverage.
Can there be any other explanation for the ongoing low TV ratings in the second half of the season? NBC/TNT’s race coverage is substandard at best and intolerable at worst. Even Talladega couldn’t beef up the sagging numbers, scoring an overnight rating of 4.3 and a 9 market share – 6.5% lower than last year’s Fall race.

How: By setting a good example.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. demonstrated an admirable level of sportsmanship on Sunday after being spun out on the final lap of the race. While Earnhardt was philosophical about the loss, many NASCAR fans were not. Involved in a verbal confrontation with Carl Edwards just six weeks prior, Junior is to be commended for maintaining his composure when it counted. A more hostile response from him could have stirred fans into an even greater post-race frenzy than the one that took place; thankfully, he is aware of the power that his words possess.

*Question For Readers (comment below) : What is your opinion of the fan behavior following Sunday’s race?* 

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M. B. Voelker
10/11/2006 08:29 AM
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I wish that the nutcase type Jr. fans would absorb the class, sportsmanship, and good character of the man they claim to love.

But continued incidents make me fear that my wish will never be fullfilled.

Melissa
10/11/2006 09:18 AM
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NASCAR fans are very passionate about the sport and they express that in their actions. It does not mean they are nuts or crazy they just let their emothins get the best of them. I mean no, alot of jr’s fans were not being good sports about the situation but I think once people have a chance to think about it and calm down they will compose themselves and be the fans JR can be proud of. He is a true example of a Man with character and integrity. The fans will follow suite soon enough.

Rebecca
10/11/2006 10:30 AM
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Being a Jr fan, I was so mad yelling at the tv, If I had been there in person I would have acted the same with the exception of throwing anything the boos are acceptable threatening vickers or his team not so much. However It was talledega and we love to see Dale jr. doing well at talledega not being taken out when leading the race thats the worst part. Had he been running 15th it would’nt have been so bad.

David
10/11/2006 10:42 AM
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I’m in full agreement with you M. B..

angie
10/11/2006 01:55 PM
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I was mad and yelled at the tv, and then I was over it. It’s racing, there is nothing you can do. This stuff happens all the time. I just wish the fans wouldn’t act so childish, it gives the rest of us a bad name.

 

Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.