While some hardcore Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans may disagree, any notion that this weekend’s restrictor-plate action at Talladega Superspeedway was disappointing or boring couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, the sport’s most popular driver was knocked out of contention for the 2015 Sprint Cup championship, but his battle throughout the race to hold point was phenomenal. He knew what he had to do to advance to the next round of The Chase and he gave everything he had.
He also knew the rules – one shot at a green-white-checkered.
And just to be clear, in order to have a green-white-checkered finish, the race has to officially be restarted after the caution. That didn’t happen, so NASCAR had to re-rack and start over, per the rulebook.
This wasn’t a situation where the sanctioning body was making things up as the race played out even though some immediately suggested that on social media. When the cars came back around after the caution was extended, the crash involving Kevin Harvick and numerous other drivers in the field occurred after Joey Logano and Earnhardt Jr. took the green flag.
Does it suck? Sure, if you are a fan of Dale Jr., but it wasn’t anything nefarious or sinister or some twisted attempt to ensure he made it to the next round. In fact, the way the whole thing played out, it would have probably been pretty easy for the sanctioning body to call the race at the split second that Earnhardt Jr. took the lead – because he was going to get past Logano.
Of course, if you are a Logano fan, then you are on Cloud 9 because your guy just made history by sweeping an entire elimination round in the playoffs. Plus, it’s impossible to ignore the magical moment of Jeff Gordon winning the pole in his final restrictor-plate race and the near win by Greg Biffle with his huge fuel-mileage gamble.
As for Harvick’s bonehead move of diving to the outside, maybe I’m wearing rose-colored glasses here, but after listening to the in-car radio and watching the in-car video, I think he knew he was trying to get out of the way. It was obvious that despite his request for Trevor Bayne to “push me” that wasn’t going to happen. Bayne went high at the exact moment Harvick realized he was going to get splattered like a bug, and the last time I checked two racecars can’t occupy the same piece of real estate on the track.
I don’t know if the CampingWorld.com 500 was a “game 7 moment” but it wasn’t any worse than game 5 between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays – both had drama, both had chaos and both left fans wondering WTF.