NASCAR Update - Week of October 8th
Talladega Speedway has become known for producing some of the most spectacular wrecks in NASCAR history. Sunday's race was no different as a 25-car wreck on the final lap ended the Chase championship hopes of several contenders and left most drivers fuming with frustration.
Defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart was attempting block a line of cars from passing when he clipped a trailing car and mayhem ensued. Stewart's car flipped on its side and on to the hood of the trailing car. The trailing car swerved into the pack and practically the entire field was caught in the wreckage.
Matt Kenseth avoided the crash to pick the victory while many chase contenders weren't so lucky. A fuming Dale Earnhardt Jr., who saw his championship hopes all but evaporate Sunday, said he no longer wants to race at restrictor plate tracks. Earnhardt echoed the sentiments of many drivers saying that restrictor plate racing is unsafe. Earnhardt did not finish the race and now sits in 11th place in the Chase for the Cup.
Earnhardt called the fans that enjoy this type of racing and these type of wrecks "bloodthirsty."
Jeff Gordon agrees, claiming that racing at Talledega used to be fun but now it is just scary. He admitted to the dilemma that NASCAR is facing. The entertainment value at restrictor plate venues is very high and that's why fans love those races. The cars are packed tighter, creating more battles for position throughout the day. One little mistake leads to wrecks like the one seen Sunday. And that is thrilling.
Chase leader Brad Keselowski was involved in the wreck, along with 10 other championship contenders. He maintained his top spot in the chase standings with a 14 point lead over Jimmie Johnson. Denny Hamlin sits 20 back of the leader and there is some space between Hamlin and the two drivers that are tied for fourth, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer. Both Bowyer and Kahne are still mathematically in the chase but their chances to catch up are running out unless they have a real good showing in the upcoming race.
The wreck at Talledega was particularly harmful for Bowyer, the two-time defending champion at Talledega. He was leading heading into a restart and if he could have held on for the victory, he could have grabbed the top slot from Keselowski.
This week NASCAR heads to Charlotte for the Bank of America 500 where the task doesn't get any easier for drivers. If Keselowski falters, the five-time champion Johnson should be ready to pounce as he is very comfortable at the track, winning this race during three of the five seasons that he won the Cup championship consecutively. Kahne has also had good showings in Charlotte and while his chances are slim, if Keselowski has a major mishap, Kahne could find himself in the think of the championship hunt.
Other news from NASCAR includes the reaction to Kurt Busch's antics on Sunday at Talledega. Busch will not be further penalized by NASCAR after losing his cool on Sunday. Busch was ordered to park his car after a lap 99 crash Sunday after not stopping when NASCAR officials ordered him to. A frustrated Busch took off his helmet and drove off during the incident.