Wrecks, Rain, Records and above all Racing at Talladega
In fact, the tornadoes that killed ten people in Yazoo County, Mississippi, never came closer than 60 odd miles, but that was plenty close enough. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, the webwaves were buzzing with people worried about the power or Mother Earth that was so close to them.
How surprising then, when Sunday morning dawned bright, sunny and hot! In fact, it was so hot, that Miss America, at the track for the festivities had to be treated for heat. The teams made their way to the garages and many of them, drivers and crew alike, prepared for a very long day. Due to the postponing of the Nationwide race, there were many who would be running two races on Sunday - both the Sprint Cup race, and immediately afterward, the Nationwide race.
NASCAR announced that, due to the rains from Saturday, a competition caution would be displayed approximately 20 laps into both races, to allow teams to check tires and equipment. The Cup race was one of the most exciting races this fan has seen at Talladega, or at any track for that matter. The return of the spoiler allowed drivers to truly run nose to tail and to see a little better what was going on behind them, even though the height of that same spoiler inhibited that. The racing was single file, double file, three wide and four wide at times, and the number of lead changes in the one race exceeded the total number of lead changes so far this year in all the other races, total.
There was the inevitable big one, but it really wasn't the kind of spectacular wreck we have become used to seeing at Talladega, rather the cars acted more like pin balls than airplanes. Also inevitably, we saw tension between drivers on the track, although it wasn't between Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, or even Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. Kyle Busch wasn't even involved. Instead, the rivalry that seems to have sprung up between Jeff Gordon and his teammate and employee, Jimmie Johnson, escalated from what it was in Texas. In fact, it appeared as if Jimmie Johnson deliberately cut off his team mate. Later in the race, Jimmie wrecked of course, I'm sure to cheers from a number of non-Johnson fans around the world. None of us want to see a driver hurt, and I'm thankful Jimmie wasn't, but it was a little gratifying to see that he wasn't going to win the race, and wouldn't even finish.
Kevin Harvick won the race by 11/1000 of a second over Jamie McMurray, who has very quickly become the "Go to Guy" for restrictor plate racing. Kevin snapped his 115 race slump by winning the Aaron's 499 (with three Green White Checkers attempts, it was more like the Aaron's 512) but had little time to celebrate, having to rush right over to his Nationwide car. McMurray was also driving in the Nationwide race, in the 88 for JR Motorsports, and on the first pit stop requested something for a really bad headache.
In the end, it was Brad Keselowski who triumphed in the Nationwide race, after barely being cleared to even race. Brad's Cup car had been damaged and he had been breathing carbon monoxide. At that last possible moment, he was cleared, and went on to win another excellent race. The last lap crash by Dennis Setzer was scary to say the least, but all involved walked away
Other notables in the Nationwide race included Steve Arpin, they young Canadian driver who leads the ARCA standings and who was recently hired by JR Motorsports to drive the number 7 car. Arpin did JRM proud at Talladega, running in the top 15 for most of the day before getting loose and getting himself and a few other cars involved in a wreck. Chrissy Wallace, who started further ahead than any of her relatives, finished up in 24th, the last car on the lead lap. Both her dad and her cousin, Steven, had problems and were unable to finish even 100 laps. Uncle Kenny Wallace showed, once again, that he is a great driver on the Superspeedways, finishing up in 11th.
John Bourneman III, once again running an extremely limited schedule - this is his first start in 2010 - managed to pull together a fifth place finish and was very emotional in his post-race interview. To him, this seemed like a win.
The teams go on to Richmond next weekend, with the Nationwide cars racing Friday night and the Cup cars taking to the track Saturday night, under lights.