Talladega: Million Dollar Lottery Or Million Dollar Junkyard?

Roberta CowanContributor INovember 1, 2009

Nascar has effectively found a way to make the big one worse. Combine a smaller restrictor plate with the COT and then tell the 43 best stock car drivers in the world they have to leave daylight between the bumpers in the corners. The results were not only a boring show of follow the leader, it also created two of the most dramatic crashes in recent history.

Ryan Newman's multi roll crash on the back stretch showed the car of today's true safety potential. Turn it around backwards and the wing on the back will do what wings do, lift and fly. Clip it in the drivers rear quarter panel hard enough to lift the rear wheel in a pack of cars and it will barrell roll. Just like Mark Martin did.

Now Nascar will say "See how safe our COT is. Both of the drivers that rolled today walked away without injuries." Hmmmm not quite. Ryan Newman was in obvious discomfort when he exited the Care Center and spoke to the press. He was very direct in his comments stating that nascar obviously didn't think very much of today's drivers. Mark Martin was pale and obviously stunned stating he didn't know what happened. He didn't remember what started it. He would have to go back and look at it.

Nascar painted the drivers into a box. Between the yellow line rule and now the sunshine rule, and the obvious design issues with the COT,these guys are at risk on these tracks. As usual however, Nascar has no intention of being proactive with the problem. They will look at the COT in 2011 and consider changes then. In the mean time fans hope and pray their driver is not the victim. And families hope and pray thier loved one is not the cause for the change that obviously should have come months ago.

Talladega is a proven million dollar junk yard. A junk yard that costs not only drivers, owners, teams, and sponsors money, but costs the fans money as well. In these economic times can we afford to continue to make these high dollar high precision junkyards just to satisfy some morbid curiosity? I would bet if you asked MWR or RCR or SHR they would tell you probably not. But we have been doing it for years. But it wasn't this bad or this predictable until the COT. There has always been the Big One. There have always been wrecks. But Nascar doesn't learn from it's mistakes. Green White Checker restarts on superspeedways just don't work. See Rusty Wallace's wreck at Talladega. The COT makes it worse. With the attitude of we can't be wrong it is not going to get any better for the teams or their drivers.

It is sad that the cars that are brought to superspeedways are disposable. Let's take Dale Jr's Amp Energy chevy as the for instance. The wrap on the car alone took hours and hours of work and talent and man power. The car itself was caressed and sleeked down. The engine department spent hours of Research and Development to make sure it could take the heat, the speeds and do it without burning a piston because of the restictor plates. The cost of the car was more than most of us make in 2 years. Odds of it returning 2.5 in 100. Wouldn't you like to bet the farm and work for months to find out that those were your odds of surviving? I feel sorry for the teams at the shop and the crews in the pits every time we go to these races. "It's a lottery" stated Dale Earnhardt Jr. "I don't think it's acceptable. I feel lucky that I didn't wreck," he said after an 11th-place finish. "We show up to bust our (butt) to get our cars to handle right and do right everywhere else, but when you come here, you just sit in the bus, wait for the damn race to start and see what your number is at the end of the deal. It's a lottery."

It's time for Nascar to take a step back. They created the car. They need to let the drivers drive it. Of course what they really need is to let the experts rebuild it but that is not going to happen anytime soon with Nascar's stand of there will be no changes to the COT until 2011. Which, judging by today's race, could very easily be like playing with matches at the gas pumps.