NASCAR’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega avoided major crashes, while Mother Nature spared devastating winds to the area.
It’s called the “Big One” at Talladega Superspeedway, a common NASCAR crash that involves multiple race cars. The 2.66 mile track accommodates high speeds that result in more damaging mishaps, often forcing teams to load up crumpled cars.
Kevin Harvick won an action-packed Sprint Cup race that had a record 29 leaders and consumed 200 laps, the longest in Talladega history.
But there were only eight cautions that only disabled 10 race cars.
Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide Aaron’s 312, leading a field that endured two “Big Ones” and had an exciting ending like the Aaron’s 499. Harvick and Keselowski raced in both races held on the same day, owing to cancellation of Saturday’s events from incessant rain and high winds. The combined mileage of both races added up to an impressive day’s work, at 851.2 miles.
Fortunately for the Talladega area, unprecedented deadly storm conditions did not produce any destructive tornados during race weekend. Mother Nature’s “Big One” did not visit Talladega. That weather fury passed north of Talladega, where a three-fourths mile wide tornado touched down and ripped through rural Yazoo County in Mississippi causing numerous deaths.
It’s better to hear the roar of engines than the growl of vicious, twisting winds. It can only be speculated how many lives of the thousands of campers who stayed in the infield would have been lost had the large storm touched down inside the track.
When dangerous weather forces NASCAR to cancel a day of racing, drivers face being corralled in their comfortable, but cramped coaches. That may not be the same as caging large wildcats, but it’s not good to impose boredom on race car drivers.
Still drivers are maybe at their best when adapting to adversities.
Kenny Wallace explained the situation while visiting the media center during the rain-plagued Saturday.
“We tend to exaggerate and panic, because it is a traveling circus,” Wallace said. “We don’t want the wind to take our tent away. I think this one is a little more serious than the others, because you turn on everything there is and everybody says there’s going to be tornados. Then it becomes serious. Then it’s not funny anymore. I’ve never seen a facility evacuated as quickly as this racetrack did this morning. When NASCAR announced and the Weather Channel had it on, you couldn’t get out of the tunnel quick enough. Everybody was leaving.
“Michael Waltrip called me a little bit ago and said, ’You want to go bowling?’ I said, hey that’s pretty good plan, yeah."
Maybe race car drivers always have a plan B or C ready for the next turn.