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The Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway is 171 days away but I can already predict the results.

At some point during the race - most likely the last 30 laps - somebody in the middle of a four-wide pack will blow a tire or push the car in front of him a little too much or lift off the throttle at the wrong moment.

This will trigger the Big One, sending cars wildly spinning, crashing and flipping. Wreckers will haul a parade of mangled cars back to the garage.

Drivers will emerge relatively unscathed from the infield medical center and tell the TV audience that somebody has to do something about the crazy racing at Talladega.

For the next several days newspapers, radio talk shows and TV will be consumed with ideas about how to "fix" Talladega and why NASCAR doesn't do something to rein in the mayhem.

The answer in April will be the same as the answer today. Talladega ain't broke and it doesn't need fixing.

Talladega is the most exciting track on the NASCAR schedule with the possible exception of Bristol. It's a track where anyone can win - even a rookie driving for an independent team that's never been to Victory Lane.

It's a track where the average margin of victory for the last three races that did not end under caution has been 0.097 seconds.

It's a track where Jimmie Johnson is not going to stink up the show and win by five seconds.

Knocking down the banking would turn Talladega into Fontana - a big, wide track where cars are spread out all over the track and the grandstands are empty.

The dirty little secret about Talladega is that the danger is the appeal. It's why Sunday's race had the highest overnight TV rating for any race on ABC this year.

It's why the track president at Fontana wants to increase the banking at that 2-mile track where the straightaway speeds already exceed those at Talladega.

Some of the most horrific crashes I've ever seen have been in snow skiing, one of which was immortalized by ABC's Wide World of Sports. But I have yet to hear anyone suggest that the Olympic downhill course should be flattened out.

Nobody is supposed to admit to being thrilled by the agony of defeat. These days it's irresponsible. We live in an age where all risk must be managed and lawyers are deployed to protect us from a cup of hot coffee at a fast food drive-thru. Eventually we'll all be required to wear bubble wrap.

Talladega clearly does not fit in such a world. And therein lies the appeal.

But it isn't blood lust. Nobody buys a ticket hoping to see somebody killed or crippled. They tune in not because the Big One will happen but because it might happen. They tune in because they know it's insane for grown men to drive 200 mph in a pack of 30 cars glued to each other's bumpers.

And yet drivers do it lap after lap in an amazing display of skill that mere mortals can only marvel at.

NASCAR understands this - which is why you won't be seeing bulldozers leveling off the banking to fix the track. Instead, NASCAR will tweak the restrictor plates and wag its finger at drivers for bumping too much in the corners.

Drivers have mixed feelings about Talladega. Some love it. Some would love to be operating the bulldozer.

One thing they all have in common, though, is that no one has put a gun to their head and forced them to race there. Anyone who believes Talladega is just too dangerous retains the option of not participating.

There are lot of other jobs out there that are less dangerous. But no one will pay to watch any of them.

source: alabama times

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