Beneath the surface, all was not as healthy as it seemed. While Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards were there to win the race per usual, the reasons some cars and drivers showed up were far different than what you’d want to believe as a race fan. These teams – nestled within the middle and back of NASCAR’s starting fields – were there not to compete, but to turn a healthy profit, all while padding the sport’s bottom line in the process. For these organizations – which have comprised up to 20% of the Truck Series field in some races – their version of competition is to slowly take a qualifying lap around the racetrack, making the starting lineup in the back of the pack – only to pull the car off the speedway in the first few laps of the race, what’s known in racing circles as the dreaded “start-and-park.” In doing so, they bring an undamaged car in the garage area, make off with tens of thousands of dollars in purse money, and ensure the sport collects its most important lifeline of all… cold, hard cash.
All the uproar over the Talledega finish got me to thinking about the past again. As for the finish itself, we’ve been all over that in back-and-forth e-mails between Frontstretch contributors, and I don’t think this is the place for my personal opinion since it isn’t supposed to be editorial commentary. The idea is to be entertaining and informing. However… the “past” it made me think of came in the 1970s at Salem, Indiana.
With an off week in the schedule, the Frontstretch staffers decided to take a second look at a series of drivers looking for that lucky break. Our writers voted in the top 15 drivers who have never won a Sprint Cup race in their careers; and while these men might have been special in other forms of stock car racing, they were never special enough to make it to Victory Lane at the highest level (at least, not yet).