Everyone knew that Talladega was going to be the Wild Card. It wasn’t crazy as predicted throughout, however; cars were falling to the back, people were getting loose, debris cautions flew. There were some close-calls that made me hold my breath, but it was surprising that The Big One hadn’t happened.
With all of that out there, Talladega just claimed Race of The Year.
It reminded me of what racing is all about, having one wiggle or bump between security and chaos. Heaven and Hell. Give and take. In those many miles, there were so many chances for everything to shatter.
But it didn’t. That’s what made it so thrilling.
We had single-car incidents, like with Kurt Busch. Busch ran out of fuel and got hit in the bumper, speeding him over the apron and hitting the inside wall. He surveyed the damage and began to drive off. NASCAR officials wanted him to stop, but Busch didn’t have his helmet on. He was then parked. This was his last race with the #51 team before heading over to the #78 (It is also known that Regan Smith is taking that seat in the #51).
Next, we go to Jamie McMurray. He had a great car that could run whatever line he wanted. Apparently, some weren’t happy with that, Kevin Harvick included. He got McMurray loose, and Jamie did what Kurt did, only on the frontstretch. As much as I enjoyed seeing him have a good day, it was ruined.
The whole field was jumbled up after that one. Some pitted, some stayed out. This was a green-white-checkered, and everyone had a huge knot in their stomachs.
The Big One hadn’t happened yet. We all knew what madness was about to come.
When the final restart began, drivers were making it four-wide and slicing in front of each other.
Air locked in my chest. I couldn’t breathe.
There is that moment when everything comes undone, and things go into slow motion. That’s how I saw The Big One play out as it did.
Tony Stewart claims he started the wreck, starting with a wiggle, then he went airborne and landed on top of Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne. Chaos followed, gathering a total of 25 cars in the carnage, NASCAR media has stated. This included some Chase drivers, excluding Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, and Greg Biffle.
Surprisingly, points-leader Brad Keselowski and strong championship contender Denny Hamlin made it out with little damage, as did Martin Truex Jr.
Kenseth crossed the finish line in first, the yellow flag flying above. Jeff Gordon came in second, helping him in the points. The rest of the standings are posted below.
The wreck made me sick to my stomach. That’s not what I loved about today; I didn’t want cars to go airborne and smash into others’ windshields.
I loved the adrenaline that powered through me the entire time, from the drop of the green flag. Heart-pounding, nerve-paralyzing energy. During those close moments, where those drivers barely saved it? You saw exactly how talented these athletes are. It made me fall in love with the sport more.
I, however, do not love what we saw at the end of the race. As always, I’m thankful for the safety equipment we have in place today. I’m thankful the fans were kept safe.
I’m thankful for NASCAR and the way it makes me feel.
At the end of the day, Keselowski has a handle on the points lead (someway, somehow). Talladega lived up to the wild-card persona it has adapted, and that’s the only thing we know for certain as of now.
Points after Talladega:
Brad Keselowski (–)
Jimmie Johnson (-14)
Denny Hamlin (-23)
Kasey Kahne (-36)
Clint Bowyer (-40)
Jeff Gordon (-42)
Tony Stewart (46)
Martin Truex Jr. (-48)
Greg Biffle (-49)
Kevin Harvick (-49)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-51)
Matt Kenseth (-62)