Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Did NASCAR get the call at the end of the Talladega Cup Series race right?

There are 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races a year not counting the Budweiser Shootout and the Sprint Showdown, each with its own twist from the short-tracks of Martinsville and Bristol, to the intermediate tracks of Charlotte and Atlanta, however four times a year, NASCAR visits two racetracks that are complete wild cards and while Daytona has some control, at Talladega Superspeedway, it’s a complete wild card that is so unpredictable, yet so heart-stopping for everyone and yet at the same time, I don’t like, however even more when you facter in the chase, it becomes an all out, get what you can get race that sometimes equals a wreckfest.

And at this past Sunday’s Amp Energy 500, guess what, the race ended in controversy, well, that’s NASCAR, so now the question that everyone will be asking even though this weekend’s Charlotte 500 miler, Did NASCAR get the call at the end of the race right?

I’ve read several articles written by both the media and fans and the reaction seems to be mixed, most fans and even sometimes the media wants to see the underdog win even if the other driver is the outspoken Tony Stewart which was trying the break a long winless streak, nonetheless, interesting comments, I found that David Poole and Jimmy Spencer, said NASCAR got it correct, while other fans and media members (mainly fans) said NASCAR got it wrong including a poll on ESPN.com.

So, in my opinion, Did NASCAR made the right call? One thing to remember is that there are two calls here, not just one, the first is who won the race and second, where do you place Regan Smith if he didn’t win…

Here’s the way I saw it: White flag is out, one lap to go at Talladega Superspeedway, fans have seen a wreckfest of race today that included at least two “Big Ones” that have taken out half the field including championship contenders Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and NASCARs Most Popular driver and my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., the race had been a reminder that restrictor plate racing is heart-stopping and yet too hard to watch at times.

The leaders are coming out of turn 4 on to the tri-oval, this is where one-two-three drivers are going to make their move for the victory, a driver doesn’t have to completely pass the leader, but only has to have a nose out front in at the start/finish line in order to win the race, the leader Tony Stewart is coming though the tri-oval with second place Regan Smith and third place Paul Menard right behind him. Experience is everything in this position to winning at Talladega and nether second or third place DEI drivers have any.

Smith makes a move to outside, Stewart blocks, Smith comedown, I believe Smith got a nose to the inside and when Stewart moved down, Smith had two options, one, what Jeff Gordon said on WindTunnel, just stand your ground and if he comes across your nose, then he comes across and most likely he would spin or second, do what he did and go below the yellow-line to miss him and race him, there was no room to move back up before the finish line.

Coming down through the tri-oval, Smith below the yellow line, Stewart above, at the line, it’s Regan Smith, wait, call in the tower, Tony Stewart is your winner today, you can’t go below the yellow to advance your position. Smith needed to come back up above the yellow line before the start finish line and then try and make the pass on Tony Stewart for the victory and didn’t do it.

So NASCAR got the first call correct, Tony Stewart is the winner of the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega,, congrats to Tony Stewart, I know he wanted that one bad, he had been on the other side of those calls and this time he was on the opposite side, great job smoke.

However in the same call, NASCAR penalized Regan Smith to 18th spot, that’s where NASCAR got the call wrong. Regan Smith did get pushed down below the yellow line, he made the right move here and had to go with it, but two things, first Smith had to get back above the yellow line before the start/finish line and then make the pass, second, Smith didn’t get the chance to give the position back to Stewart, there was no time, the finish line was right there, so Smith should have been scored second period, not 18th and that’s it.

Following that, NASCAR issued a rule clarification regarding passing at Daytona and Talladega (Read more at NASCAR.com)

And on that, the chase points standings has a bigger picture, however with six races to go including is weekend’s at Charlotte, it’s still at least a five driver race for the 2008 Sprint Cup Series Championship that currently reads:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards -72
3. Greg Biffle -77
4. Jeff Burton -99

And now it's time to move on…to Charlotte for the 500.

- Racedriven