Carl Edwards was involved in one of NASCAR’s most spectacular wrecks back in April at Talladega Superspeedway.
The wreck in itself sent a very cold chill through the veins of NASCAR’s top brass, knowing that they had just escaped a major tragedy even though seven fans were injured as a result of debris flying into the stands.
Talladega officials took the first step by reinforcing the fencing that separates the fans from the action on the track, and NASCAR took the second step by informing the drivers that bump-drafting would not be allowed during Talladega’s race weekend.
It didn’t take NASCAR very long to show that they were serious, when Michael Waltrip was taken off the track for the final 30 minutes of practice after being warned to give Jimmie Johnson some space.
"We want to see sunshine between the cars," were the words that came from NASCAR President Mike Helton's during the drivers meeting of Sundays AMP Energy 500.
Helton also told the drivers, "Remember the aggressive driving will still be watched very closely on the front stretches and through the tri-oval. You will not be allowed to do that in the turns. That's from the green flag all the way through to the checkered flag.”
Now even though NASCAR warned the drivers that no bump-drafting would be allowed, it was obvious on Sunday that Newman’s wreck had nothing to do with the bump-drafting.
Instead, it was the result of the single-file racing that the restrictor plates produce, which plays havoc with the air that surrounds the car making it very unpredictable especially with as close as they to racing to one another.
Ryan Newman, who was also involved in the wreck back in April, knows first hand just how unpredictable that air can be, and along with the degree that he has in vehicle structure engineering also knows about the law of physics.
"It's just a product of this racing and what NASCAR has put us into with this box and these restrictor plates with these types of cars. It is a shame that not more is getting done. I don't know. I guess maybe I expect NASCAR to call me. I am the only guy out there with an engineering degree.”
“There is way more technology than that to help us out. You know with the yellow line, no bump-drafting, no passing. There is way more technology than that to help us out. Whether it is a speed issue, a roof flap issue, whatever.”
On Sunday, it was Newman this time that went airborne after getting bumped by Marcos Ambrose, with Newman landing on the hood of Kevin Harvick’s car.
After which Newman slid up the track into the wall, before coming back down on the apron where he did a twist landing on his roof in the infield grass.
Newman had to be cut-out of the car after the safety crews flipped it back right-side up, after hanging up-side down for almost 15 minutes with Newman still buckled in.
And once again, because of each safety feature that these cars utilize, another driver was able to walk away without a major injury.
“I just got to thank Butler Built, Simpson Race Products and all the guys at the shop and Hendrick Chassis what they do to make the cars safer. When I hit the roll cage and landed on my head I was a little worried and I was happy to be able to walk out of that in a roundabout way."
Newman, who was okay after being checked out at the infield medical center, expressed his frustration with NASCAR’s decision to take the racing out of the drivers hands while adding another rule.
"The more rules, the more NASCAR is telling us how to drive the race cars, the less we can race and the less we can put on a show for the fans. As I said, I will go back in the day, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, all those guys, they respected each other."
Newman also added that, "They have created a lot of the boredom because we couldn't race. It is survival. The race could have been 100 laps long and we could have had a great race. It is just not the way it is and it is unfortunate. I just hate it for the fans."
"It was a boring race and it was a ridiculous race. To see 43 cars run single file is not showed up here today for. We'll see what happens."
Is this really the type of racing that NASCAR is trying to sell to its fans, or is it another way of NASCAR trying to corner 43 drivers into believing that they alone have the solution?
"I think NASCAR and all the drivers should sit in a private room, lock the doors and have a discussion and try to fix this together," Sadler said. "That's what I'd like to see."
Four-time cup champion Jeff Gordon talked about what could possibly be done to prevent another wreck like what we seen on Sunday, and at the same time not taking away from the excitement that the sport was meant to bring.
"My recommendation to them a long time ago and still, is I think basically we're just punching too big of a hole and we've got too much power to go along with that if you take away from that wicker.”
“I just think we've got to get the air turned back down to catch the cars a little bit more. I just know that we shouldn't be able to just get into that pocket and close up; there are two things: one, the car has so much drag that when you clear somebody it's just like putting the brakes on.”
Gordon finished with this, “And then the other side is that when you get close up to them, you just close right up on them. And when you take 40 cars or 20 cars and pack 'em, it's just bumper cars at 190 mph."
"You want to make this a really exciting race for the whole race, make it 200 miles. That's why the truck races and other races when they come here are so exciting.”
Gordon’s teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. also chimed in with his theory, about what might be the problem that NASCAR is having at the superspeedway.
"We have sort of out-engineered this race track somehow. You know what I mean? We over-engineered and the technology has sort of passed what they were trying to accomplish here when they built this place. But what we are doing now, is ok, but I don't think it is the best solution.”
The big question is will NASCAR take into account the length of the race which can take anywhere from three to four hours to complete, along with the speeds that these cars race at even with the restrictor plates.
And maybe realize that it’s the drivers who are the ones having to keep their concentration lap after lap, and that it can easily get very strenuous at times.
NASCAR racing is supposed to be exciting as well as entertaining not only for the fans, but for the drivers as well.
But how far will NASCAR go to make sure that the sport stays that way, without putting the drivers at any more risk than what they already are?
Ryan Newman probably said it best with this statement from the April Talladega race, and it once again came to pass.
"Talladega is short for 'We're gonna crash,'" Newman said, "'we just don't know when.'"
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