There is only one thing certain about racing at Talladega Superspeedway: it’s going to get wild. Restrictor-plate tracks have a routine of their own: no rhythm, no rhyme to its reasons. It’s an animal, a menace, a terror.
That’s what makes it loveable.
NASCAR fans are adrenaline junkies. We love the sound of cars whipping by at 180 mph. It’s exhilarating to see drivers fight tooth and nail for one more inch. There’s nothing like watching pure passion overflow.
Johnny Sauter won the Fred’s 250 late Saturday afternoon after a race full of tandem drafting and pack racing. His truck was up front earlier in the day, but that doesn’t say much; in restrictor-plate racing, almost everyone leads a lap. It’s the Oprah of NASCAR tracks: “You lead a lap, you lead a lap, EVERYONE LEADS A LAP!”
Regardless, a win is a win, and Sauter earned it. He was leading on the final lap, which is the only one that matters.
Most of the time, it’s also the lap that holds the biggest wreck. The Big One, as it has been dubbed, is an incident that chews up racecars and spits them out, leaving them as wads of metal and broken dreams.
Coming out of turn four on the last lap, The Big One made its appearance. Miguel Paludo clipped the rear of Jeb Burton, hooking him into Kyle Busch. Busch, who was pushing Dakota Armstrong at the time, was part of a six-car fight for the win. As the other five cars pulled away from the chaos and went into the tri-oval, another wreck broke out, collecting every car but Sauter.
As with many endeavors at this Alabama track, a truck -Paludo’s- flipped and skated towards the finish time on its hood. Busch’s machine shot into the inside wall just outside of pit road, then rolled up the banking to settle against the outside barrier. At first glance, many would’ve thought it was a war zone, like a bomb had went off.
That’s just Talladega.
Although NASCAR fans enjoy the rush of racing, they despise instances where drivers get hurt. This track sometimes blurs the line between fan and “fan,” so let’s make this clear: hard racing is amazing to see, yet it’s difficult to have that sort of racing without carnage at this track. We all want to enjoy it, but nobody enjoys a driver getting hurt.
Thankfully, no one has been reported as injured after Talladega’s last-lap insanity, and let’s all hope the Sprint Cup Series’ race has the same account.
Point Standings after Talladega
1. Matt Crafton (–)
2. Ty Dillon (-57)
3. James Buescher (-58)
4. Jeb Burton (-82)
5. Miguel Paludo (-88)
6. Johnny Sauter (-92)
7. Ryan Blaney (-104)
8. Timothy Peters (-106)
9. Darrell Wallace Jr. (-114)
10. Brendan Gaughan (-127)