Like KFC's attempt at breaking the world record for the Chicken Dance, it seemed like going into that final turn and down the front stretch that Edwards and Kesolowski were playing a game of chicken with Kesolowski winning by the slightest of margins. By now you have seen the replays of Carl Edwards car go flying into the fence as Brad Kesolowski holds on to win the Sprint Cup race in Talledega.
Some fans are saying it was an exciting finish and one of the best in Nascar's history. I'll put it in the top 5 of wild finishes in Nascar but seeing cars spinning in the air and debris going into the stands doesn't allow me to put the finish in exciting. Nascar loves restrictor plate racing because it bunches the cars up and keeps the racing close all day long. Any racing fan that has been so for 15 years or so has seen the highlights of Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Elliott Sadler and Rusty Wallace flipping down the track at Talledega. Allison and Petty got in the fence in the past as they went flipping. I'm sure that several fans have talked about Edwards flip today as they sat down to lunch. It was the topic on Nascar themed radio programs. David Poole said this morning on Sirius Nascar Radio that he can see tv networks and race promoters using that footage to promote the sport or a race but has condemned that kind of promotion.
Carl Edwards made comments moments after stepping out of the infield care center that it's going to take someone getting killed in this type of racing before Nascar makes a change. I'll have to agree with him. We had two seperate wrecks that took out seven to 12 cars each. Then we had the most dramatic of them all on the last lap just a few feet from the finish line. The most scary part about that last lap crash was that as Edwards was lifting off the ground, his car hit Ryan Newman's hood which sent him spinning into the fence. Just a foot or so more and Edwards rear tire would have ended up right in Newman's face in the windshield. That would have surely been a fatal blow an possibly propelled Edwards car further up the fence. If that would have happened, there is a good chance that Edwards car might have ended up in the stands or at a minimum, more parts which would have led to more injuries and possibly a lot more serious ones.
You only have to go back to May, 1999 and the IRL race at Lowe's Speedway where there was a crash between the third and fourth turns where parts went into the stands injuring eight fans and killing three. That race was halted and no winner declared, no prize money or points were awarded. The 1998 Indy 500 winner, Eddie Cheever was quoted as saying "It's very difficult to move on from something like that. It was an incredibly freak accident, but that still is no reason for it to occur." The IRL has never returned to Lowe's Speedway after that incident.
Some want to say that any kind of change at this point would be a knee jerk reaction and unwarranted. Some have called for the banks at Talledega and Daytona to be reconfigured or taken down altogether. Improvements have been made throughout the years to the fencing system to prevent debris going into fan areas. Safer barriers have softened the impact of the cars into walls reducing injuries. Nascar has done a lot in the areas of driver safety with HANS devices and redesigning the cockpit are of the Sprint Cup car to increase the driver's safety. All of this is great, but I don't want to see a car or debris go flying into the stands injuring or killing fans. I don't want to see a car going airborn flipping violently end or end down the track in the name of "exciting racing." I don't want to hear fans say, "that was an incredible race," just because of the wrecks they saw in it.
We love auto racing because it's fast, loud and yes, an air of danger in the air. Something must be done to improve the safety of everyone (fans, crews and drivers) at restrictor plate tracks. Nascar needs to think outside the box and reconsider restrictor plate. I'm not for taking the plates off and letting them run wide open at 220 or so. A smaller engine would help. The combination of the smaller engine and some kind of rules package that would allow the drivers to use the break some or even letting off the throttle without being run into from behind by another car would be fine with me. Nascar spent considerable time and money into the redesign of the current car. They even have a research and development shop in the Charlotte area. It's time for the guys at Nascar Headquarters in Daytona to put a call into the R & D shop to get working on it. The second call needs to be to the teams and media to tell everyone, including fans, that they realize there's a problem and they are working to fix it and will get it fixed. Let's hope Nascar doesn't say they don't see a problem and they're not going to do anything. We hear it said all the time, "what's it going to take, getting someone killed before something is done?" I hope it doesn't get to that point.