Talladega: Playing It Safe
Before Sunday’s race at Talladega Super Speedway, fans and teams alike were battling inner nerves and sweaty palms. History shows that a team is more likely to put scrapped sheet metal on the hauler than racecar but after Sunday’s race, that wasn’t the case.
Overall, the Camping World 500 was one of the better restrictor plate races this season. Multiple lead changes, hard fought battles, and strategy were well played throughout the race and the man in Victory Lane wasn’t the one leading most of the race.
The 188-lap race was relatively calm with only 2 wrecks that took out four racecars. The first, coming on lap-79, involved Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose. The two collided bid-pack when Ambrose moved to the high side and lost control, sliding down into Montoya. Ambrose continued with minimal damage but Montoya’s day was over.
The second wreck came after the white flag waved. Austin Dillon, filling in for a injured Tony Stewart, jumped out of line. When he moved back up in line, he lost the end of his car and spun out of control. Going airborne, he landed upright, right in the path of Casey Mears.
Coming to the checkered flag, a few cars jumped out of line to make a move but in the end, no one wanted to risk causing the “big one.” An exciting race with a not so exciting finish left many race fans wanting more. In the end, non-chaser Jamie McMurray went to Victory Lane for the first time since 2010.
Did the drivers play it safe? Probably, but with a point’s battle so close for the championship, the risk of losing a possible top-10 finish was greater than the small chance of winning.