Wrecking nerves, cars – Arkansas Online
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Two cars went airborne, 35 were involved in an accident of some kind, and Danica Patrick had the wind knocked out of her in a violent crash into the wall.
Just another demolition derby at Talladega Superspeedway.
Brad Keselowski won a race Sunday that was dominated by multiple wrecks that caused millions of dollars in damage to race teams. It was Keselowski’s fourth career victory at Talladega and second victory of the season, and ended Joe Gibbs Racing’s streak of four consecutive victories.
“Crazy day,” Keselowski said. “Somehow we managed to stay ahead of or out of all the chaos. That’s how Talladega goes. Sometimes we run here and everybody kind of lines up against the wall, and sometimes we come here and it’s crazy side by side, wreck ’em up, flip ’em.
“I think that’s kind of the allure to coming here because you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
That’s not entirely true about Talladega, which more times than not turns into a mess of wrecked race cars.
Keselowski said that’s part of restrictor-plate racing at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
“Racing has always been that balance of daredevils and chess players, this has always been more of a daredevil-type track,” said Keselowski.
Chris Buescher’s car flipped three times in an early crash, and Matt Kenseth was turned upside down in the waning laps. In Kenseth’s accident, Patrick hit hard into an energy-absorbing wall that that seemed to buckle upon impact. She appeared shaken after the hit and hustled out of her burning car.
“I have a pretty decent bruise on my arm and my foot, and my head feels like I hit a wall at 200,” she said. “My chest hurts when I breathe.”
There were 21- and 12-car accidents in the final 28 laps. And, as Keselowski crossed the finish line, another wreck in the back of the pack punctuated the topsy-turvy day. NASCAR’s box score showed 35 of the 40 cars were involved in some sort of accident.
Only 21 of the 40 cars finished on the lead lap, and 12 cars were ruled out of the race.
Second-place finisher Kyle Busch said he looked in his rearview mirror at one point and only saw four cars without some sort of damage.
“I hate it. I’d much rather be at home,” said Busch, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion. “I’ve got a win. I don’t need to be here.”
Austin Dillon finished third and said he enjoyed the race, even though it was nerve-racking. Dillon was in a horrific crash of his own at Daytona last July and said the style of racing at restrictor-plate tracks creates an atmosphere of danger.
“We all have to do it. I don’t know how many really love it,” Dillon said. “I know our mom’s, wives and girlfriends don’t like it. We don’t like to be part of crashes. If people are cheering for crashes, man, it’s not a good thing.”
The pace of Sunday’s race was up a tick because of rain in the forecast that could have shortened the event from its scheduled 180 laps. Once the race hit the halfway point and was official, drivers began their charge to the front because they couldn’t avoid waiting and rain suddenly ending the event.
Patrick, who was inside the top 10 when she was hit by another car and turned into Kenseth, who went airborne, said the potential rain intensified the racing.
“We all raced to the halfway, then we all raced to the rain that was coming, then we all raced to the end,” she said. “It was like the whole race, you spent it racing like it was the end. There was no moments to relax at all. I’m sure that kind of expanded people’s comfort zones at the end of the race because we were already so used to running close.
“Some people took it over the edge.”
Not every driver was alarmed at all the accidents.
Jamie McMurray, one of the better plate racers in the series, thought Sunday was pretty typical.
“Everyone is pretty calm until we get to halfway because we all want to get to halfway, and then it got a little bit wild after that,” he said. “But it’s just plate racing. When you look back at all of these restrictor plate races, you have a lot of wrecks that just don’t happen. And today we had a lot of wrecks, and they happened.”
Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought his favorite car, named “Amelia” to Talladega in search of his first victory of the season. But he wrecked on lap 50 and had to go to the garage. He eventually returned to the track, and his steering wheel mysteriously came off in his hand. He had to steer the car himself with his hand on the steering column as he put the wheel back on. Then he was collected in a wreck with Carl Edwards. He finished last.
“Hell, I’m going home. I’m done,” he said. “I think we need to park the car for a while, too.”
Sports on 05/02/2016