NASCAR is an equation of drivers, teams, fans and tracks, with each having unique traits. Just as fans defend their favorite drivers because of their personalities and driving talent, they choose the tracks that provide the most interesting racing for them. Meanwhile, drivers may choose their favorite tracks for the challenge they find when they race there.
Talladega provides a love/hate relationship for drivers who either love the high-speed challenge or fear the carnage that may ruin their day at the track and, perhaps, their standing in the points.
The northern Alabama track opened in 1969 as Alabama Motor Speedway on land adjacent to a closed airport facility and nearby interstate. It was also said to be on Indian burial grounds that have stirred up stories of mysterious happenings and untimely deaths at the track, which eventually became known as Talladega Motor Speedway in 1989.
The 2.66-mile track is the biggest and fastest track on the NASCAR circuit, with 33-degree banking in the turns, 18-degree banking on the tri-oval and a 4,000-foot backstretch.
Fans count on action-packed restrictor-plate racing, always anticipating "the big one," which is guaranteed to tear up lots of equipment in what seems to be the blink of an eye.
Dale Earnhardt, the Intimidator, was dominant at Talladega, with 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories.
The first race was problematic when Charlie Glotzbach won the pole at 199.466 and the tire company didn't think its tires would hold up more than a few laps at those speeds. Many drivers who belonged to a group known as the Professional Drivers Association, led by Richard Petty, left the track.
Bill France was determined to put on a show for the fans who had traveled to the track. He used the remaining drivers and drivers from a race the previous day, to run a full 500-mile race and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1987, Bill Elliott set a record of 212.809 mph average speed which stands today. It was during that race Bobby Allison was involved in a crash and went airborne causing NASCAR to mandate restrictor plates.
The massive track, with seating for 175,000 people, hosts two of the most anticipated races on the circuit, especially the fall Chase race which can be a real game-changer.
Now, let's take a look at various tracks that provide challenges for the drivers and entertainment for the fans. These tracks top my list of those who host NASCAR Sprint Cup races. See if you agree.