The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Talladega Spring Race Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday April 27, 2009

Go to site navigation Go to article

The Key Moment: Carl Edwards had the lead when Brad Keselowski got a fender inside of him off turn four on the final lap. Edwards moved to block the No. 09 a little too late, going for a terrifying ride into the catchfence off of Ryan Newman’s car while Keselowski drove to Victory Lane.

In a Nutshell: Bread and circuses, folks. Stop the madness before someone on either side of the catchfence dies needlessly.

Dramatic Moment: I hate to say it… but waiting to see if the No. 99 car would enter the grandstands.

A lap eight wreck eliminated several key contenders and destroyed a few million dollars’ worth of cars. Honestly, it just makes me sick to my stomach watching this sort of racing.

Jamie McMurray tries to make his way out of his mangled Ford after it came to a rest next to Scott Riggs in the first big wreck of the day just eight laps into the race.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

First and foremost, as I write this my thoughts are with any fans who were hurt at Talladega when Carl Edwards’ stricken Ford crashed hard into the catchfence at the end of the race. As I write, there are no reports of any serious injuries, but seeing that line of nine orange and white ambulances lined up in the area after the race scared the hell out of me. It could have been a lot worse if that No. 99 car actually entered the stands — but it still shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. It frightens me and it infuriates me because NASCAR’s excuse for these deadly pileup plates is to keep the cars out of the grandstands. Obviously, the rule is now in place to sell tickets and boost ratings instead. We’ve seen Ernie Irvan’s hood fly into the crowd, Ryan Newman’s wheel go into the infield, Neil Bonnett’s Chevy almost go into the ‘Dega stands… and now Carl Edwards almost vault over the catchfence ala Bobby Allison in 1987. It’s time to stop the madness and fix the frickin’ tracks…

Here’s the latest update as of Monday, 3:30 AM: As many as eight fans were injured in the grandstands at Talladega. Most were bumps and bruises caused by flying debris, but two fans were airlifted from the track to local hospitals. One was hurt after apparently being struck by parts of a PA speaker that had been mounted to the catchfence. Her injuries are not life-threatening, but owing to post-race traffic a helicopter was the most expedient method to get her to a hospital.

At this point, NASCAR appears to have smoked another bullet — but that doesn’t make playing Russian Roulette with fans’ lives an acceptable game.

You could see it coming like a freight train. Denny Hamlin had pushed several drivers to the front; but once he got Newman to the lead late in the race, Newman left him hung out to dry and the No. 11 dropped through the field like a rock. Not too long afterwards, it was Hamlin who was guilty of launching the sequel to the Big One. We all want to see a lot more emotions in our sport… but unbridled frustration turning to homicidal rage isn’t one of them.

Carl Edwards’ broad grin and jubilant personality took the sting out of his words, but hopefully someone was taking notes: “We’ll race like this until we kill somebody. and then we’ll change it.” And that’s coming from a driver who competed for about 499 miles and 5273 feet before the wreck — not from someone in the press box or NASCAR’s control booth. While Edwards running across the start/finish line to complete the race and his generous post-race comments were classy and popular, I’d have liked to have seen him run over to that ruined section of catchfence, too, to see if he’d inadvertently injured anyone.

Editor’s Note: Edwards did say following the race he “wouldn’t be able to live with himself” if someone had gotten killed in the grandstands.

When FOX’s Chris Myers said that Sunday’s event was the “best race” of the season, I guess he tipped his hand towards what sort of race FOX Sports likes. Yes, it was wild and unpredictable… but it was contrived to be that way. FOX just likes wrecks.

In another example of the Rule of Unintended Consequences, the yellow line rule at the inside of the track was something NASCAR added at Daytona and Talladega to improve safety. Last year, Regan Smith was forced out of bounds by Tony Stewart on the final lap, and stated he drove below the yellow line to avoid triggering a massive crash. But after officials determined he broke the rule, Smith was dropped to the final finishing position on the lead lap after crossing the start/finish line first. This year, Keselowski, well aware of last year’s penalty, held his ground and triggered a frightening wreck instead. You can argue whether Edwards got his just desserts for throwing a block or whether he did what any race driver with the lead would do with the finish line just feet away; but regardless, there was no reason why fans’ lives had to be endangered. Maybe it’s time to open up the real estate below the yellow line from the exit of turn four to the start/finish line on the final lap so we can see a side-by-side duel to the checkers rather than a wreck.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Casey Mears got off with a slap on the wrist for their post-race antics at Phoenix. Both drivers are on NASCAR’s toothless probation for the next six races while no fines, suspensions, or points penalties were handed down. If you’re surprised, you’re probably still wondering why the Easter Bunny skipped you again.

Speaking of Earnhardt, looks likes there’s more trouble in paradise. Nationwide Insurance recently signed Junior as a spokesman, and he shot some commercials noting three generations of Earnhardts — Ralph, Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. — were all customers of the insurance firm. Originally, the ads featured images of Dale the Original… but they seem to have been hastily edited to remove his image. Apparently, Teresa Earnhardt is once again quickly and firmly defending her late husband’s image from exploitation unless she gets a piece of the action.

Wow, Phoenix drew a 3.6 final TV rating. Hard to get happy about that? So, why did so few people tune in? A) The late start time. B) The current inept state of FOX broadcast coverage. C) The current sorry state of Cup racing. Class, discuss. Me, I’m reminded of a dish a college roommate used to make towards the end of the week when we were all broke called “Leedle-o-This” stew. He took a “leedle” of this, a “leedle” of that, and whatever else was left in the refrigerator that hadn’t grown mold, or in the spice rack, to come up with a truly terrible dinner that could only be consumed by hungry teenagers who’d been drinking since getting out of class at noon. Aw, yes, chicken, onion and bacon stew, with chunks of stale orange, drowned in garlic served over a runny pancake. Kind of reminds me of the Phoenix race.

I was a little taken aback ABC would choose to show Matt Kenseth’s crying and very pregnant wife rushing towards the infield care center after his scary rollover wreck in Saturday’s Nationwide race. One might argue the shot put a human view on what the drivers’ families go through watching these plate wreckfests — but it just came off as low rent. It would have been nice to show Kenseth emerging from the car alive and unharmed before going to the crying wife replay.

You get the feeling that Keselowski forgot to thank his sponsor because nobody had taught him to pronounce the Indian Casino’s name?

Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. teamed up on the last laps of both the Nationwide and Cup races this weekend. Has there been such an unusual pairing since Alan Kulwicki and Rusty Wallace teamed up on a memorable series of antifreeze ads?

Michael Waltrip says he is undecided about retiring from the driver’s seat after this season because he still wants to win a Cup championship for NAPA. Hey, I want to win the Power Ball lottery, buy a new Challenger, and marry Heather Locklear — but I’m not buying a plane ticket just yet. Yes, sadly reality has to intrude in decision-making processes at some point. And no, I doubt you’ll see Clint Bowyer taking over the No. 55 car next season…

If Internet rumors are true (and when are they not?) the demise of the once proud Pontiac brand will be announced Monday as part of GM’s plan to keep themselves at the federal government’s sugar teat. As the proud owner of a ’76 455 Trans Am, a guy who occasionally wheeled a ’73 Grand Am 7.4-liter to high school, and a guy whose first attempts at rebuilding an engine was helping an older friend redo the Ram Air IV mill in his GTO Judge, I’ll be flying my flag at half-staff Monday. Once the staid choice of stenographers and accountants, John DeLorean (yeah, that John DeLorean of DMC and white line fever fame) dragged the division kicking and screaming into the youthful muscle car era with the corporate edict ducking GTO; then, it was off to the races as everyone else tried to catch up. The Trans Am flew the performance banner during the dark period of the mid-to-late ’70s, which produced such automotive horrors as the Mustang II King Cobra, the Shelby Charger, and the 305 cube Corvette, still proudly carrying a big block under the hood in most cases with the infamous “screaming chicken” stretching its wings around a shaker scoop. NASCAR racers including Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, Bobby Labonte, and Tony Stewart drove Pontiacs to wins and titles. Even the late Dale Earnhardt drove Pontiacs in 1981. Monday will be a sad day for fans of the American auto industry; but unfortunately, it will the latest of many more.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

In this sport, it’s an express elevator from the penthouse to the outhouse. Mark Martin won at Phoenix last week, but got caught up in the Big One at Talladega and finished dead last. At least he didn’t finish dead.

Jeff Gordon is always a favorite at Talladega… but his chances ended early in the lap eight wreck. By the way, isn’t a Challenger a Dodge?

Kyle Busch took an extended turn at the lead before attempting to block Jeff Burton one too many times. Live by the sword, die by the sword I suppose.

Jimmie Johnson missed the first big wreck by inches; then, a timely caution flag allowed him to duck into the pits with a loose wheel. But in the end, Johnson got collected in the second big wreck. For a moment there, he almost sounded human in his post-race comments, noting “it sucks to race here” — but donning his sunglasses allowed him to return to the Batman mode.

Carl Edwards did his best to stay at the back of the pack to try to stay out of trouble all day. He timed his charge to the front perfectly… but it all went wrong in the final few yards of the race. He learned his lesson the hard way; at Talladega, there’s only one way to stay out of the wrecks… stay home.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a front row seat for the big Edwards/Newman wreck at the end of the race, but dove low and drove on to a second place finish.

Jeff Burton drove from three laps down after electrical problems to a tenth place finish.

Kurt Busch took a wild ride through the infield to bring out the fourth caution flag after being involved in a lap eight wreck. Still, he soldiered on to a sixth place finish despite not having a rear bumper on the back of his Dodge.

Worth Noting

  • The top three finishing drivers rolled in three Chevys, and four of the top 10 finishers were wheeling Bowties. The rest of the top 10 were at the helm of four Toyotas, a Ford, and a Dodge.
  • Scott Speed in fifth was the top finishing rookie of the race. Joey Logano in ninth scored a decent finish as well. It’s almost as if the rookies didn’t learn they were supposed to be in a huge crash to get their sponsors some air time yet.
  • Brad Keselowski won a Cup event in just his fifth start. It was the first win for car owner James Finch in sixteen years of competing in NASCAR’s top circuit and 105 starts.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (second) scored his first top 5 result (and obviously best finish) of 2009. Earnhardt last finished second at Martinsville last Fall.
  • Ryan Newman scored his best finish of the 2009 Cup season, and posted his first top 5 result with Stewart-Haas Racing. It was Newman’s first top 5 result since Texas last Spring.
  • Marcos Ambrose (fourth) scored his best result on an oval course of his fledgling Cup career. Good on ya, Mate.
  • Scott Speed (fifth) scored his first top 10 result in the Cup series. His previous best result had been a sixteenth place finish.
  • Greg Biffle (seventh) has strung together three straight top 10 results.
  • Brian Vickers (eighth) has now managed four top 10 results in this season’s nine Cup points events.
  • Joey Logano’s ninth place finish was his first top 10 of his Cup career.
  • Joe Nemechek’s 14th place finish was his best Cup result since, oddly enough, Talladega last Fall. Is this a case of Maui Wowie?
  • Max Papis’ 18th place finish was his best in five career Cup starts.
  • Jeff Gordon’s 38th place finish was his worst of the current Cup season. I’m sure that hard hit didn’t do his aching back a bit of good.
  • Mark Martin finished dead last for the first time since Atlanta in the Fall of 2007.

What’s the Points?

Kurt Busch takes over the point lead. Former point leader Jeff Gordon now finds himself second, five points behind Busch. Isn’t it ironic that in a week the future of the Chrysler Corporation is very much in doubt, a Dodge pilot leads the points?

Jimmie Johnson slid back a spot to third in the standings, with Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin holding steady to round out the top 5.

Further back, Greg Biffle made the biggest jump in the points, moving up four spots and into the top 12 in tenth. Just ahead of him, Jeff Burton moved up two spots to ninth in the standings while his RCR teammate Clint Bowyer slid down two spots to eighth. David Reutimann also fell two spots to 11th, but still is clinging to a spot in the Chase. Speaking of which — Matt Kenseth hangs on to that final transfer spot after a seventeenth place finish at Talladega.

Just outside the top 12, things are heating up behind him. Ryan Newman rebounded four spots to take over 13th, thirty points out of the top 12. Kasey Kahne fell four spots and out of the top 12 to 14th, but is just three points behind Newman. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s first good finish of the season propels him forward four spots to 15th, a manageable 45 points out of the top 12 ensuring NASCAR officials will offer live goats in Holocaust to pagan gods this week for letting their franchise player at least have a shot at making the Chase. Meanwhile, Mark Martin’s rough outing dropped him a full five positions to 18th in the standings. But if I had to bet my rent money on Junior or Martin making the Chase, I’d bet on the crazy old man.

Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick is in even worse shape: he now finds himself mired back in 20th after being involved in Talladega’s early wreck.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one three bottles of Maalox. Yeah, it was exciting and unpredictable… but ultimately, it was almost fatal as well.

Next Up: The circuit heads off to what might be its most competitive track left on the schedule, Richmond. Good old track, Bad new cars.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Bad Wolf
04/27/2009 02:02 AM

How many “Fans” turned off the race at lap 8 after J.G. got caught up in the always exciting Big One? Did you notice that right after that incident the booth went into panic mode and declared that it was Jr.s race to lose, trying to keep Jr Nation tuned in for his sure win. Eight laps in and D.W. and the rest of the shills are calling it for Jr.

So Nascar imposed the restrictor plate, a temporary solution until something better can be devised, back in the 80’s after Bobby gets airborn and almost lands in the stands at Dega, and today Carl gives us part duex. Pretty much tells me the heads of Nascar are morons and the “Naysayers” have been right the last 21 years. The plates have fixed nothing and Nascar has been lucky, but hey- the new fans dig the carnage. I bet the Fox promo department has the new TV ads ready to go already with Carl hurtling through the air in slo mo high def from at least 8 differant angles.

Matt, don’t worry about Pontiac. I bet you can go on Ebay and pick up Nascar approved decals for the headlights, grill, side markers and tailights. Apply them to your Yugo and presto, you now own a genuine Pontiac race proven 2009 muscle car.

paul sparks
04/27/2009 02:50 AM

I just really think that Nascar over-equalized the plates. Things changed in I believe in 2000 where Nascar change d the compression ratios in the motors and gears to be uniform across the field to save money. Ask David Gilliand or Jeremy Mayfield how much that really saved them.

If anyone watches the 1986 Daytona 500, there always is the chance of a big one at Daytona and Talladega w or w/o a restrictor plate. However if the cars can get separated a bit, you won’t get a 40 car pack.

Congrats to Bob Kesolowski on his first win, and also to James Finch, who has endured more tragedy than one car owner should ever go through.

Kevin in SoCal
04/27/2009 03:57 AM

Matt, you rant and rave about how NASCAR should fix the tracks and fix the cars to prevent things like this happening, yet you offer no suggestions on how they should do so. Care to elaborate?

I personally would have wanted them to knock the banking down to about 20-24 degrees when they repaved the track in 2007. Or whatever number of degrees it would take for the drivers to have to lift and coast a little bit around the turns, like they do at Atlanta and Texas.

04/27/2009 06:20 AM

Could NASCAR please stop the insanity before somebody gets killed?

Robert Eastman
04/27/2009 07:04 AM

The TALLADEGA CAR WARS have escalated to an Excited Frenzy!
Realizing that they must breed a new “Class of Intimidators,” NASCAR has proclaimed loud and clear “You are ‘Double Yellow’ if you go below the line!” Attention Drivers: To win at Talladega you must “Launch The Leader!”
Carl Edwards said it best, “NASCAR has put us in a box, and they won’t change the rules until someone is killed!”
NASCAR Rule #01/09: The Regan Smith/Brad Keselowski Launch The Leader “Bullys’ Rule” rule.

04/27/2009 07:05 AM

Who first said “This ain’t real racing!”? He was right. This is a rolling, high speed form of Survivor.

Bill B
04/27/2009 07:12 AM

I have to admit that watching a NASCAR restrictor plate race is exciting, just like watching a train wreck or a hostage standoff.

I am glad Kesolowski didn’t go below the line and instead caused a dangerous wreck. Why? Because now NASCAR can’t pretend that the yellow line rule does anything to lessen safety. In fact it increases the probability.

Look at the finishing order and see all the guys that finished well that are usually lucky to sniff the top 20 and you will realize that the RP races are just crap shoots.

Put a chican down the back stretch, that would fix the need for restrictor plates. Although lessening the banking would probably do the same thing. Basically there needs to be something to make the drivers lift at some point.

Joey Wilson
04/27/2009 07:45 AM

Instead of the usual rant against NASCAR, let’s take a different look. For only the 2nd time in more than 20 years, a car got close to going into the grandstands. But the catch fence did its job. Moving objects on four wheels going 190+ mph are bound to get squirrely now and then. The odds of a car getting launched, bouncing off another car and going airborne like that are very slim but it happens. It’s not like Talladega is the only place where cars get close to getting into the crowd. A late model got completely into the stands at a southern Illinois dirt track a few years ago. It’s racing. The unexpected can happen. I go to dirt races all the time (including last Saturday night when I saw the Outlaw sprints). I always sit at the top of the grandstands.

04/27/2009 07:53 AM

The biggest problem at the end of that race was driver stupidity on Edwards part. He was beat and he knew it, so he did a stupid move. Further proof that he doesn’t belong in Cup level racing. As for Keselowski, He’s living proof that Junior knows talent when he see’s it, and that Rick Hendrick is the greatest car owner in NASCAR in that he gave such a great car to such a deserving team! You would never see the Jerk Edwards drives for doing that!

04/27/2009 08:01 AM

Mike, Keselowski comes from a racing family. It isn’t Hendrick’s or Jr’s genius. However, I was disappointed to see that K. had commented that fans want to see wrecks and a contact sport. I missed the race due to a funeral and I don’t bother to record them anymore. I’m glad. I would not have wanted to see that mess.

04/27/2009 08:04 AM

I totally agree that major changes are needed at the plate tracks. Unfortunately taking off the plates is not the answer, since we’d see cars bunched – and flying – at 240 mph instead.

If that car had gone into the stands, it would make the 2001 Daytona 500 tragedy seem like nothing compared to seeing dozens of spectators killed in an instant.

There are three possible solutions:

1) Even smaller restrictor plates to get the speeds down more (but bunches them up even more)

2) Knock down the banking greatly (to like 12 degrees would be needed to avoid plates)

3) Work on side wings to add extra stability in side-flying crashes.

And the yellow line rule – if Regan Smith had not ducked down that far last fall, Tony Stewart would have probably gone flying like that as well.

04/27/2009 08:08 AM


I have been reading your articles for several years and three different web sites, so I’m a big fan (of yours, not NA$CAR). Newcomers like Kevin in SoCal probably haven’t read the many articles you have written offering solutions to the problems at Daytona and Talladega.

Keep up the good work!

04/27/2009 08:20 AM

Kevin, you are so blind. Take off your France supplied blinders. You are what is so wrong with “newbies” to NA$CAR. You do not have a clue. Bet you love DW and Digger.

MATT for years has complained about plates and has always offered the fix’s.

How can you live in So. Cal and be a NA$CAR fan when you do not go the short tracks all around you?

You are a NA$CAR fan. Not a RACING fan.

Buy books by Greg Fielden and get Smokie’s books if you reaaly want to know about NA$CAR

Carl D.
04/27/2009 08:22 AM


Long-time readers of Matt’s column know that he has on numerous occasions stated that both Talledega and Daytona need to lower the banking. Unfortunately, we all know they never will.

04/27/2009 08:39 AM


Hey you and I agree on something. Lower the banking. Maybe also adopt an unrestricted 305 engine at Dega and Daytona.

Edwards car was hardly the dfirst since Bobby’s to get in the fence. Go on you Tube and look for the footage of Neil Bonnett going into the fence off of four in 1993. Look for Ricky Craven’s big Dega that basically ended his career. Google Stanley Smith whose closed head injuries in the Bonnett wreck crippled him. In that same 1993 Dega race a driver went out of the park and landed in the parking lot.

These are litigous times. I don’t want to be NASCAR’s defense lawyer when a car finally does make it into the atands claiming NASCAR had no idea such a thing could happen.

04/27/2009 09:11 AM

What an awesome, AWESOME finish.

There is nothing wrong with the track, DO NOT try to fix it. The problem lies with the COT. Its a POS!!! Take a look at the replay and ask why one of the two roof flaps did not deploy until the rear wheels were off the ground. That damn car was nearly 135 degrees off straight before the angled roof flap (passenger side) deployed, it was waaaay too late. I’ll take stab as to why. I think the ridge rail that runs on the roof the length of the roof on the passenger side (and drivers side) blocked the air travel that would have help pick up the flap. The COT suckers need to add flaps (a vertical design) on the body in front of the rear wheels. That will keep the cars down. Leave the friggin track alone. Run as-is or stay on the porch!

Again, awesome finish, one we haven’t seen in a long time. Yet, I have to wonder why the top five running drivers, with 1-1/2 lap to go, did not block (or try to follow) the Edwards/Keselowski train.

04/27/2009 09:15 AM

Edwards is only half right….

Plate racing has already killed.

If the first death could not convince Nascar to fix plate racing nothing else will.
04/27/2009 09:19 AM

Brain Fart will never part with the money it will take to lower the banking. They’re not making as much money as they’ve previously made, and we know he won’t want to cause his lifestyle to suffer.

I swear, in the interview at the infield care center, Carl Edwards looked as if he aged 10 years during that trip into the catch fence. I know it’s about selling seats, but with tracks not selling out, they could not sell out the first 5 -10 rows on the front stretch in the lower level. ‘Dega is one of those tracks where I always stay away from the front row during race day. The higher the better.

‘Dega had perfect opportunity a few years ago when they resurfaced the track to lower the banking, but of course ISC did not choose to do so. I knew it was going to be a race filled with wrecks when they had a “big one” (per Fox) on lap 7. And again, no green flag pit stops. Debris cautions took care of that.

04/27/2009 09:51 AM

Actually , if you want to see what happens when a car gets into the stands at high speed , check on LeMans 24 Hour Race about 1955 . The worst accident involving spectators ever .
Lowering the banking at Dega will only result in lower banking . The speeds at Pocono and Indy are very much the same as Talladega , and they have very little banking . The fastest track in NASCAR has been Atlanta for a number of years now , it has a lot of banking , but i don’t recall any situations involving cars almost going into the stands .
No , i think other forces are at work . But the first step in protecting the fans is just that . Protect the fans . Why don’t the fences extend at least twice as high as the do now . Not just to stop cars from getting into the crowd , but to stop hoods and wheels from launching into the crowd . The engineering is available to do that easily , it just takes Nascar to want to .
Regarding FAUX and Nascar tv standards , i couldn’t keep track of the number of times the wreck ( the first one ) was replayed during the broadcast . Was it 74 or 75 times . We get it guys ! Its obvious that they think the crashes are the important part of the show . And you’ll notice that Nascar race ads , especially for the trucks , show almost nothing but crashes . In fact , they were so busy re-playing the final crash , that they totally neglected to even show whether Newman was okay or not . We saw his car go off camera and disappear . This might have been the very worst FAUX broadcast ever . And thats saying a lot .

04/27/2009 09:52 AM

Matt, two things about Pontiac:

1) While John Z was the father of the GTO, and created the truly kick-ass 1969 – 72 Grand Prix models that made it a desirable car, Pontiac’s rebirth as GM’s “Excitement” division should be properly attributed to one Semon “Bunkie” Knudson, who took the staid, boring Pontiac line in the 1950’s and added the fire-breathing Bonneville and the famous “Wide Track” 59’s. He was also the driving force (no pun intended) in Pontiac going racing South of the Mason-Dixon line. Mr. DeLorean owes his employment at Pontiac to Bunkie.

2) The Shelby Charger was a 1980’s design, not a 1970’s Malaise-era car.

It’s a sad day when we’ll see no more Tin Indians from GM.

04/27/2009 09:55 AM

Oh yea, who was it that had their hat on during the National Anthem? Was that Boyer? (I forget, but I know someone did)
For shame, man!

Mike in Floyd Va
04/27/2009 09:58 AM

The only reason the restrictor plate is still around isn’t for driver or fan safety. It’s to help keep the cost of NA$CAR’s and it’s conjoined, incestuous twin I$C’s, insurance down.

According to NA$CAR’s early propaganda about the COT/POS, it was designed to run without a restrictor plate. If that’s the case, why are they using them?

If the original schedule is kept on the COT/POS development, they should be downsizing the engines next year to around the 5 liter range. This will only cost them about 5-7 HP according to Robert Yates. It will slow them down some but not a lot.

If they angled the wing down some more, this would slow the cars down some. But this opens a whole new can of worms and money being spent in a time when money is tight.

Maybe they should go back to the blunt nosed design that the cars of the ’80’s had to help slow them down some more.

It’s a shame that the fans got hurt and I wish them a speedy recovery.

Carl D.
04/27/2009 10:23 AM

marshall said: “Lowering the banking at Dega will only result in lower banking . The speeds at Pocono and Indy are very much the same as Talladega , and they have very little banking . The fastest track in NASCAR has been Atlanta for a number of years now , it has a lot of banking , but i don’t recall any situations involving cars almost going into the stands.”

I for one would like to see someone who knows more about this than I do address marshall’s comment. On the surface it seems to make sense. If the speeds truly are pretty much the same at Pocono, Indy, and Atlanta, why do we have the safety issues only at Dega and Daytona? Is it simply the restrictor plates?

Bill B
04/27/2009 10:48 AM

I can’t speak to Marshall’s comment but I will point out that it isn’t so much the speed as the close proximity in which the RP’s force the drivers to race. There are rarely “Big Ones” at most other tracks because the drivers can separate themselves (except for the first 5 laps or so after a restart). So, getting rid of the restrictor plate would only cause the probability of “The Big Ones” to go down, not answer all the problems associated with moving 3000 pound objects at 200mph.

04/27/2009 10:54 AM

3 Points
1 – Fox Booth Idiots saying that the fence held and nothing went into the stands – what were they smoking?
2 – Wasn’t one of the reasons the COT/POS got rammed down our throats was that it was supposed to do away with restrictor plates – what went wrong there?
3 – NASCAR rule book – we still can’t find it. 2 years ago Johnny Benson goes below the yellow line at the finish of a truck race and they allow it saying the ‘checkers were in the air – anything goes’. Last year Reagan Smith goes below the line to avoid a block at the checkers and is penalized. Now, we had Brian Vickers and another car go below the line for a pass early in the race and only get a warning. NASCAR said they were going around a slower car so it was O.K. Isn’t that the definition of passing – going around a slower car?

04/27/2009 11:08 AM


04/27/2009 11:34 AM

There is something cursed about Talladega though. Even before the plates, there were really bad and huge crashes there (and at Daytona). The “Talladega Curse” article is worth reposting for sure.

I’m definitely skeptical of some of the alternative ways of slowing the cars down though, and I don’t see them breaking up the packs at all either. They could run 1960s-era antique cars tuned to racing speed these days and still be racing in huge packs with how competitive and close things are at Talladega. I know in the Papyrus computer simulator I have, changing the physics and all that DOES NOT break up the packs.

The ONLY way is to cut the banking right out, make them resemble tracks like Pocono and Indianapolis. It would need to be at least cut to 12 degrees to slow things down to safe speeds looking at Talladega’s design.

04/27/2009 11:55 AM

Plate tracks suck the big one.

We need more “Bunkies aka the Boss amd Ed Cole’s and John too.

04/27/2009 12:41 PM

It was Bowyer with the hat on during the Anthem. DUDE?!?!

Also, when did Ole DW fall in love with Kyle Bush? He gets all giddy and blushes whenever he mentions his name. Jr must have broke his heart and now he’s moved on.

Brent S
04/27/2009 12:51 PM

Hank Z,

The rails on the roof are there to disturb the airflow and prevent a car from becoming flying. Do a search on the roof flaps and you’ll find out everything you need to know. I do agree that they need to look at the design again as I believe the current design is showing it’s age.

Doug in Seattle (Washington)
04/27/2009 12:52 PM

Lowering the banking at Dega or Daytona would just turn them into 2.66 and 2.5 mile California/Michigans.

Do you REALLY want that?

Edwards car was on it’s way back down until it landed on Newman’s car. Newman’s car punted the 99 into the catchfence. So the roof flaps were working to get the car back down once it got airborne, but they didn’t prevent it from getting there and nothing would have stopped it from getting into the fence once it got hit from below.

The “old car” would have done the same thing, though it might have gotten even more air. Edward’s car got dangerously close to going over the fence.

Kevin in SoCal
04/27/2009 12:59 PM

Mike said: “Kevin, you are so blind. Take off your France supplied blinders. You are what is so wrong with “newbies” to NA$CAR. You do not have a clue. Bet you love DW and Digger.”

I’ve been watching NASCAR seriously since 2003, and off and on before that. I like all forms of racing, but my favorite was the NHRA until I discovered NASCAR. I like DW for his racing resume, and his historical knowledge, but he’s way too much of a blow-hard as an announcer. And Digger couldnt die a horrible death fast enough to make up for that travesty FOX has given us. Does that answer your question, or would you like to insult me some more?

04/27/2009 01:08 PM


Also, when did Ole DW fall in love with Kyle Bush? He gets all giddy and blushes whenever he mentions his name. Jr must have broke his heart and now he’s moved on.

i was about ready to hurl. dw has been in love with kyle busch for years now. he also has affections for “cousin carl”. junebug isn’t running well and i guess junebug hasn’t had any use for dw in a while. i think dw tried to tell junebug somethings and junebug tuned him out. the kyle busch love affair with dw is sickening.

Wolfman NH
04/27/2009 02:10 PM

Just throwing it out there: If ‘Daga & Daytona used standard V6 engines instead of plated V8 engines, would it lose or gain? A V6 would lower the top speed, but no plate means more throttle control and it would take less than 1 lap to reach top speed (it take more than 1 now).
Pontiac bright side: No more Aztec.

Joe W.
04/27/2009 02:55 PM

I was told last week to just let Mike be Mike but well I don’t think I will. Mike you have once again shown your complete ignorance and bias. Carl Edwards diserves to be in Cup. Look at his record. I don’t know what Roush did to you but I sure am tired of the constant complaining you do about him and his team of talented racers. I am glad Carl was O.K. and I hope the injured fans are all well. I hope Nascar learned something from this mess but I really doubt it. Oh and Mike this one is for you. I hate what happened to Matt Kenseth in the Nationwide race but glad he is O.K. too and CONGRATS to David Ragan on his WIN!!

04/27/2009 03:25 PM

I was busy Sunday and did not tune in until just AFTER the final lap wreck.

Darrell Waltrip was nearly giddy with delight at what a great exciting finish they had while at the same time the fate of all the fans who were hurt was not totally known..

How does this guy have a job in broadcasting? He is an idiot who should keep his mouth shut. I cannot imagine watching this guy again. He needs to go.. What a jerk

All he was EVER good for was the stupid Icky Shuffle many years ago.. What a moron..

04/27/2009 03:32 PM

Thanks DW! No below the yelow line. This is what that kid should have done to Tony last year. That rule is fu@#ing stupid. “No below the yellow line because is is out of bounds!” Really, it is a bout time someone wrecked from all this stupid blocking. Can we go back to the real race car now, not the POS. Remember the days when a few cars could pull away from the pack? Now with the POS and everyone doing the exact same speed, it is amazing more things such as this don’t happen on these tracks. With these car it is either follow the leader or wreck him. I hope you FAIL NASCRAP! Death to you and your money puppets!

“I want to thank the fans for coming out.” You beeyotches better as soon there will be no one watching. Just what the drunk France wanted. Seriously! How else could someone take the fastest growing sport in the US and turn it into the fastest shrinking sport in the US within 5 years unless they were trying to do it. If Brian France isn’t then what we see nowadays is very sad. Boo NASCRAP!


Because someone replied to your post, this wasn't deleted, however, a new username is in order. I've changed the one that was there. Thanks, Ren

Bill B
04/27/2009 03:35 PM

Hmmm… and that was one of his more lucid moments.

04/27/2009 03:39 PM

Actually Jack , DW was one hell of a driver in his day , almost unbeatable at certain tracks like Bristol .
But it goes to show you that driving talent doesn’t translate into broadcasting talent . Far from it in his case . The same is true of former crew chiefs . Larry Mac does seem to care about Native Americans though . Not a week gos by that he doesn’t mention “ injuns “ from “ hindrick , wherever that is .

04/27/2009 03:52 PM

Fix the track so that plates aren’t needed. “Plate racing” is not racing.

What would be said if Jr. were taken out on lap 8 and couldn’t return?

Paul M
04/27/2009 03:56 PM

I knew all of these responses would be like this, but I have to dissent. If they turn this track into a reduced banking track and make it like Pocono or Michigan, I won’t watch as must-see. Nor would I think about going there. Talledega is what it is, and auto racing is what it is. This is a dangerous sport. You can’t overlook that part, and some tracks will be inherently more so. It is easy to pinpoint this track, but what about New Hampshire or Homestead where there have been on-track tradgedies? Or NHRA events lately. Or how about IRL cars spewing pieces into the air at Texas a few years ago, luckily on the backstretch? Perhaps, seating should not be allowed in the lower sections at RP tracks? I would not sit down there at any superspeedway myself and it was sad to see fans get hurt. But like someone said, the 99 would have come down if not for Newman re-launching it. The catchfence did do the job to the degree that it could. It could happen at any high-speed track, but I will grant you it is far more likely at ‘Dega.

But don’t change Talledega. Every week I hear how boring things are,(and they are!) and now, here we have something that you can’t turn off, and it is no good too?
Have you ever been to Pocono to watch a race? I have and I will never go back, being bored out of my skull. Have a 2.5 mile track with cars spread out, and see how exciting that is in person. At Pocono, they hug the wall in the frontstretch, so you can’t even see them in front of you!

I LOVE restrictor plate races. If the drivers,don’t want to risk it, then please don’t sign up for it. A good driver, to win the Cup, needs to be adept at RP racing, road courses, short tracks, and all the other quirky tracks. I like that.

Now, if you want to discuss the merits of the current car, I am all with you. Seems like races don’t have many exciting finishes anymore.

Tell me yesterday wasn’t edge of your seat drama as the Edwards/Kesolowski hybrid creature blasted all the way from the back in the last few laps. If Carl had not blocked, I think he wins anyway. The 09 would not have maintained his momentum, I think.

Seems most of the wrecks are caused by wild efforts to block, like yesterday and Saturday too. Instead of having the yellow line, just tell the drivers when they are getting passed, hold your line. Tough luck for ya.

I like the comments about the yellow line causing this. It sure did! They jobbed Regan Smith last year trying to give Tony a break,and caused drivers to hold their line instead of losing a lap for dropping below it.

PS: Matt, I am not sure what you are referring to when you say ‘Dega ended Craven’s career. He was driving the Kodiak car then and was OK. Only at Texas did he have the hard crash that started the problems he had with his head injury

Kevin in SoCal
04/27/2009 03:59 PM

piss_on_you said: “Remember the days when a few cars could pull away from the pack?

I guessed you missed the end of the race where Earnhardt and Newman, and Kesolowski and Edwards pulled away from the pack and it was a four-man race to the finish line from turn 4?

Ren Jonsin - Publisher
04/27/2009 05:00 PM

Pontiac —

Since my first car was a ’70 Goat convertible, and I had a booming used GTO parts business in the late 80’s when Hemming’s was the only place to find an original wood steering wheel, I too am saddened at the Indian’s passing. I didn’t care at all about Olds, and they could have taken Buick too, but Pontiac’s special. Granted, the Holden GTO just wasn’t the same as the 64 – 70 thanks to traction control, radial tires, and excellent brakes that really took away from the experience, it’s still tough to see the Poncho nameplate put to rest.

04/27/2009 06:14 PM

If you don’t like it,don’t watch/go to it. Daytona & Dega are the only tracks I watch anymore(used to see/go to them all) Blocking/boneheaded moves are the problem & the drivers must know the risks of such.

04/27/2009 07:37 PM

Matt, what gives? are you getting old on me? The Dega race is the ONLY race worth watching. We watch racing because it excites us, dega excites us, enough said. I never thought you would start whining. Damn…

04/27/2009 07:59 PM

Simple solution. Close the first 10 to 15 rows of seats. Add a second catch fence, about where the first row of seats are now, and make the existing fence taller. Then get rid of the restrictor plates, and let them run as fast as they can.

04/27/2009 08:02 PM


You must not have read everything I’ve been writing for awhile now. I hate plate racing. I love excitement but the idea of death and disemberment on either side of the catchfence doesn’t excite me. It sickens me. I want to see the acrobats walk out on the high wire…not fall.

After a RP race in February of 2001, I made a career changing decision. I knew it was going to land me in hot water, and it did. I stated clearly, and in radio interviews all over the country that NASCAR officials had blood on thier hands in the death of Dale Earnhardt. I was warned to back down, but I stood up. It cost me big time, tens of thousands of dollars, but I’d write the same column tomorrow. Somehow, I don’t want to write and I doubt you want to read a brethless column about how the Claratin Clear paint scheme on the 99 car was debuting at Tallaega. The story I saw was the 99 car almost lannded up in the stands. Take a look at the outstanding photo FS has atop the home page today. It clearly shows this was a a tragedy, narrowly averted.

With the old csrs in thr 80s Michigan used to be one of the best races on the circuit, with dozens upon dozens of lead changes and ten car packs heading to the finish line three and four wide in foot stomping finishes we’d talk about for weeks. I swear it was so. I was there. You don’t have to bunch the cars up with plates of taxi-cab srips to make for exciting racing.

04/27/2009 10:40 PM

YES! Please lower the banking at Talladega and Daytona! I love the insomnia cures that Michigan and California races have become. I enjoy seeing the race leader pull out 10 seconds on 2nd place! [/sarcasm]

Pull the plates off, have NASCAR produce and distribute a superspeedway wing with enough drag to keep the speeds around 210mph. (Remember NASCAR distributes the COT wing at the start of every weekend). Then redesign the circa 1993 roof flaps with todays technology and add more of them and you have a great package with good throttle response and only 5-10 car packs instead of the 30 car wreckfest packs.

Michael T.
04/28/2009 08:48 AM

Is the COT responsible for the Kennedy assasination too? The COT may be ugly, but the ills of 40 car packs is not a new development in the last couple of years. The draft is ALWAYS going to be a huge factor on the big tracks. Do what you want to split them up, the draft is going to help the slower cars keep up with the faster cars. And yes, I love that about plate racing. There are 32 other races a year where I can fall asleep watching Hendrick, Roush or Gibbs drive off into the sunset and collect yet another trophy.

04/28/2009 10:45 AM

Matt, I know where you are coming from. It scared the hell out of me watching Carl in the air, thought we had that under control with the roof flaps, guess not. Anyway, Talladega is a dangerous track, always has been, it is an inherently dangerous sport, thats the game. The guys race, they race hard, they race with winning on their minds nothing else. I guess the point is, it is what it is at Talladega, kind of comes down to the old school saying “ No Guts No Glory” I love the racing at Talladega, the excitment at that track can’t be matched anywhere on the circuit, not even Daytona. The only way to make it safe is not to race around Dega, but to drive around it, and thats not racing. Matt Remember Indy, when the stands went right up to the fence? Remember why they don’t anymore? Perhaps that lesson can be applied to Dega, that would be the only solution for the fans. Take care Matt (Foot note: I didn’t really mean whining just thought I might get your attention LOL)

Kevin in SoCal
04/28/2009 04:00 PM

Larry, the roof flaps worked and the car was coming down to the ground. Unfortunately it hit Newman’s car first and that sent it back up into the air and towards the fence.

04/28/2009 10:51 PM

Well two demolition derby events down and only two more to go. One more at Bristol, and of course one more at Talladega. Of course that’s for this year only.

04/28/2009 11:12 PM

There are three demo debries left..let’s not forget the Firecracker 400 at at Daytona in July. Maybe this time we can claim the lives of a driver or two or maybe even a few dozen fans, to boost TV ratings, sell some tickets and get the sport some prime time TV coverage.

Obviously I am being sarcastic, I am horrified to see the depths this sport has resorted to try to glue some eyes on the TV sets. We can’t have a decent race at Michigan or Pocono but if we simply add some plates to the cars and guaruntee a few big wrecks everything will be fine.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. was one of the most vocal critics of plate racing and he died in the 2001 Daytona 500. David Poole wrote some passionate columns this week about the madness and he died today.

Stop the madness. If this is your idea of good racing, well there’s always World’s Scariest Polce Chases over on Reality TV to feed your blood lust.

04/29/2009 09:10 PM

Earnhardt died BLOCKING, not racing. If he had been going for the checkers…instead of..nevermind.