After spending a couple days to take in all of Sunday's action, I'm still in awe of what happened at Talladega. It's one of those races that you knew what was going to happen, but still are in shock of the aftermath.
The difference between this race and one's in the weeks prior is that I was in the media center alongside NASCAR's recognized media members.
So, this will be a very special "Parks Race Reactions" as I'm going to look at the race, the carnage, and my experience at the Talladega Superspeedway.
First, when I arrived in Alabama on Friday night, I knew that the weather would be a factor for the following day. Sure enough, when I got to the track early Saturday, vice president of corporate communications, Jim Hunter, was holding a press conference. Luckily, I got there just as it started, so I didn't miss anything.
Hunter and the local meteorologists were in discussion all week, and after looking at the radar, they decided to postpone track activities for Saturday.
In reality, they shut the track down. The garage closed, the media compound closed up, and everyone left the infield. I went back to the hotel and just decided to wait it out because I didn't want to take the risk.
It was the best decision I made cause just as I got close to my hotel, the rain just began pouring like Niagara Falls.
Come Sunday, the weather was not a factor. The wind had picked up, but the sun was shining and everyone was in a very pleasant mood in the media center.
Personally, I was in a very celebratory mood even before the race began. The Aaron's 499 was going to take place on my 25th birthday. The last time a Sprint Cup race was held on April 25, I missed it because of other obligations.
Needless to say, I was taking in the experience to the fullest extent.
I went through the garage seeing what teams were prepared for the race despite the rain. Many of the teams were saying the teams to beat were Hendrick and also the Earnhardt-Ganassi drivers.
Soon, following the invocation and National Anthem, the cars fired up, the media center settled down and it was time to go racing.
What I got was the most incredible race I have ever witnessed, whether it was at the track or on television. The record leaders and lead changes, the intense action, it was simply breathtaking.
Now, onto the race itself. Where do you begin?
First off, I'm looking at a topic that I've already stirred up some controversy on. The Jeff Gordon-Jimmie Johnson feud is taking more steps forward and not many back. Let's face it, at this point, it's a rivalry.
It's a rivalry on the track, in the media, and in Hendrick Motorsports. Whether this stops soon is uncertain, but more gasoline was added to this issue at Talladega.
Will Richmond be the race where the match is lit? Let's just wait and see.
The other issue that has been discussed a lot by some drivers and media is the big wrecks that happened late in the race. It started with the wreck that took Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton out on lap 183.
That set forth the first race where all three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish were used.
In this case, I'm agreeing with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and saying that three attempts at Talladega is too many. There only needs to be one attempt at this track and possibly Daytona as well.
Each driver knows what the risk is at this track, and just adding the attempts is the worst idea. The race was scheduled for 188 laps, but it ended with 200 laps complete.
It also ended with 17 cars torn up in some fashion in the last 17 laps.
This is way too many attempts when it comes to restrictor plate racing. The rule needs to be amended for Daytona and Talladega to just one attempt. Yes, the rule is for the fans, but the risk doesn't equal the reward.
The big reward at the end of the day was the unprecedented finish. The two-car race between Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray is the best finish so far this season.
Harvick made the right call at the right time and made the perfect pass. Talking to some fans after the race, people were calling it a move that Earnhardt would pull off.
I wouldn't go that far, but it definitely was a move that had to be pulled off with precise timing. Harvick would not have attempted that pass if the start/finish line was in the middle of the trioval like Daytona.
The experience at Talladega was unlike any race I've been to. That's coming from a man who's been to Indy, Charlotte, Daytona and Darlington.
Self admitted, I am still petrified of this track. That is probably not going to change because there are so many risks involved with racing here.
However, I have much more respect for this track than I did before. Being at the speedway, surrounded by media, the drivers, and the die-hard fans began winning me over.
It was simply the perfect way to spend my birthday.