Night races are ones for the book. You know, a leather-bound, inch-thick page turner that rests on the highest ledge of the tallest bookshelf. It doesn’t get cracked open often, but the magic that is night racing spreads it wide open.
Yet, what about a race that isn’t scheduled to run at night? What if Mother Nature has different plans? Pushes it to the line between dusk and pure darkness? Does that get it in the books?
Talladega does. Oh yes, it does.
The first aspect that makes it noteworthy is the rain. Oh, how rain is desirable to farmers and desert dwellers. Yet, it brings trouble on race day.
Yesterday’s showers pushed the Nationwide start off by a few hours, and spring flowers were nowhere to be seen. It was known that the same thing could happen to the Cup race, so NASCAR brought the green flag up by twenty minutes. That couldn’t stop Mother Nature from raining on the stock car parade with sixty laps to go. She cried and cried, and we were forced into a three-and-a-half long red flag.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. DING! It was finally time to race. But not before teams uncovered their cars and realized the rain damaged their electrical setups. Well, that was just Juan Pablo Montoya, but it was still terrible.
Dear Mother Nature, Go cry somewhere else. We don’t want you here.
Another type of rain came down, and it was made up of sparks and broken parts. The thunderstorm that is known as The Big One made an appearance twice in Alabama. The first time include championship-contenders Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch, in reminiscent shades of Daytona, and it collected around sixteen cars. SIXTEEN cars gone before lap 50.
The second installment of The Big One occurred after the red flag was lifted, and it began when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. attempted to make it four-wide. That obviously didn’t work, and it resulted in Kurt Busch flipping and landing on Ryan Newman’s hood. Oops.
Because that included twelve cars, there number of cars running at the finish was about fifteen. However, those fifteen cars put on a heck of a Green-White-Checkered finish.
In the controlled chaos that was the final three laps, a lone victor pushed through the madness and took the checkered flag.
David Ragan, the driver of the no. 34 for Front Row Motorsports sliced and diced between lanes to claim his second career win, the first coming during the night race at Daytona long ago.
A low-budget team, a driver who was pushed out from a top-tier team, and nothing to lose? That’s an underdog story we can all appreciate.
So, is this Talladega race worthy of going into the books?
A wet racetrack, crumpled sheet metal, and an emotional winner all say yes.
Point Standings after Talladega
1. Jimmie Johnson (–)
2. Carl Edwards (-41)
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-59)
4. Clint Bowyer (-67)
5. Brad Keselowski (-69)
6. Kasey Kahne (-84)
7. Aric Almirola (-90)
8. Paul Menard (-93)
9. Kyle Busch (-98)
10. Greg Biffle (-103)
11. Matt Kenseth (-104)
12. Kevin Harvick (-107)