NASCAR: Should Changes Come After Talladega?

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IFebruary 15, 2017

Every driver starts a race in hopes of winning it. And sometimes, drivers will do anything to do just that, even if it ruins the day of a fellow competitor.

But what do you do if it's NASCAR themselves preventing the competition?

Because of the rule the sanctioning body instated saying no driver can go below the double yellow lines at Daytona and Talladega, Regan Smith lost a chance at his first Cup Series win.

The yellow lines would also cost Carl Edwards' a victory this past weekend.

On the final lap of this Sunday's Aaron's 499, the No. 09 of Brad Keselowski pushed the No. 99 of Edwards past leader Ryan Newan and his draft partner, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

After Keselowski and Edwards separated themselves from the two, Keselowski dove to the outside of the Clariton Ford. The car was sent into the air, slamming into the front of Newman before catching the fence, flipping, and spinning more before landing on the track on fire.

Following the event, Edwards was visibly shaking.

"I guess we'll do this until somebody gets killed, and then we'll change it," Edwards told FOX's Dick Berggren.

Edwards explained his fears on checking to see that his role cage wasn't crushed. It was the first time Edwards had ever flipped in a racecar.

"(The hit) was pretty hard. It was just a little bit scary because I saw the ground and then I hit the wall with, I couldn't tell what part of the car I hit the wall with, and I was real worried I hit the role cage and had to wait a minute to make sure there wasn't something you know, stuck in me somewhere or something. It was a little nerve racking to, uh, hit the wall with something other than the side of the racecar."

Seven fans were treated for minor injuries from debris that flew into the grandstands. None of them were life threatening.

The 2007 Busch Series Champion was on Capital Hill Monday talking with lawmakers about energy saving Ford Fusions, but the attention was obviously on his scary wreck.

"I feel like there is an unnecessary amount of risk to the drivers and to the fans with that type of show we're putting on (at Talladega), which is not really a race," Edwards said. "If there is a way to fix it, we have to do it. I don't know what it is. But I can guarantee you that what we're doing now is not doing the trick."

Edwards also said he'd spoken with NASCAR President Mike Helton.

With two races in a row now being determined by the double yellow line, it calls into question whether NASCAR should keep the rule.

"The yellow line is there to prevent us from running underneath each other and prevent us from being crazy," race winner Keselowski said. "But the bottom line is, that's who we are. We are all crazy racecar drivers and we are going to run into each other."

"The yellow line could be six feet high or six feet low and we would still run into each other. That's what we do. It's a give-and-take sport and as races go on it's a challenge of who is going to lift and who is not, and it's testing each other every moment."

Officials at the speedway are expected to evaluate the catch-fence to see if it needs to be higher. However, give credit where credit is most definitely due—it did it's job, and no one, driver or spectator, was seriously injured.

Another issue that Talladega also brought up was SAFER Barriers. During the second coming of the "Big One" on lap 180, when the No. 11 FedEx Toyota of Denny Hamlin spun the No. 42 of Montoya, the collision collected defending champion Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Robby Gordon, Jeremy Mayfield, and the Penske cars of David Stremme and Sam Hornish, Jr.

If the No. 7 of Gordon would've collided with the inside wall just 100 feet down from where he did, he wouldn't have hit a SAFER Barrier, but rather concrete.

For those fans keeping score at home, this raises serious question of the sanctioning body number two: why aren't there SAFER walls all the way around every track on the NASCAR circuit?

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton was expected to hold a news conference on safety issues.

Thanks to Jayski,, FOX Sports and the Washington Post for the quotes and information used in this piece.