Race Weekend Central

Did the Five-Minute Clock Ruin Plate Racing?

This could be yet one more post-Talladega column that bemoans the high toll that the banks of the 2.66-mile superspeedway take on the field of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. But that would simply be beating a dead horse. Perhaps we could look at this fiasco from a different direction.

Only fourteen cars took the checkers on Sunday evenings after the typical highspeed demolition derby ripped up hoods, fenders, bumpers, tires, and our sense of anticipation. Was this because they were all shredded beyond the ability to run?

No, not really. This was a direct result of the five-minute repair rule that NASCAR instituted for the 2017 season. If your car has to be towed back to the garage after a wreck, you’re done. If you can’t fix sheet metal damage with duct tape and determination earned in a 200-mph game of pinball, you’re done. If your car needs a new…almost anything beyond an antenna for your radio, you are likely done.

Too many times we have turned back this year to the good ole days a wished for and little more excitement, or competition, or a more varied menu on Sunday afternoons.  I admit to having a wistful thought of seeing at least one of those 26 cars pull some magic repair work out of their hats and log a top 10 finish, like the good ole days. But it was not to be.

However, would allowing some of that shredded sheet metal back on the track actually serve any good?

It’s debatable. The point of that much-debated five-minute clock was to keep broken and beaten machines from shedding bits and bolts when they resumed racing with little more than a lick and prayer so that we could avoid an additional wreck caused by punctured brake lines or popped radiators.

Well, even with only 17 relatively intact cars running and just six laps to go, the pack was not finished running into walls, each other, and imaginary demons.  After two red flags and the majority of the competitors packing up early, you would think we’d be able to enjoy the last 10 laps without unneeded drama.

In the end, we could say that due to the five-minute rule a few teams didn’t get the opportunity to run one more lap and earn a point or two, but this rule did not affect the quality of racing at Talladega.  It is still home to the finest clusterduck of a race that we watch each and every year.

There is that saying about lipstick and pigs…I guess it applies.

SOMETHING SHINY

Junior Nation will be growing by one more according to the proud Papa’s Instagram post.  Dale and Amy Earnhardt announced they are expecting a baby girl on Monday afternoon.  Congratulations!

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