Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Sprint Cup 2010: Race 33 -- A Totally Satisfying Talladega
Going into this fall’s race at the great American Indian graveyard, there was much trepidation. Drivers still in reach of the championship feared getting caught up in a Talladega disaster. The whole field feared the typical big one where the long train of cars engaged in a massive draft pile up in a massive metal crunching wreck.
This year, there was no big one. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked Jeff Burton in a bump drafting miscue, and at the very end of the race after the white flag was displayed, A.J. Allmendinger’s #43 Ford went sailing. Kevin Harvick had a little bit of a run-in requiring some smart duct-tape application but still finished second to his teammate, Clint Bowyer, keeping him firmly in contention and gaining points on Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson who also finished in the top ten. Perhaps most amazing of all, there was only one start and park driver, #97 Jeff Fuller. All-in-all, it seemed like Halloween was a day to celebrate for the Sprint Cup gang.
The festivities had a somber side too. Veteran NASCAR official, Jim Hunter, a widely respected leader in the front office, died of cancer. Many drivers reflected fondly on his contributions to the sport. Hunter helped publicize the sport through the whole Winston Cup era.
Richard Petty Racing had all four cars in the race and generally outpaced the Roush stable in the Ford camp. Speculation remains how they will continue the year and then what lies ahead.
It’s on to Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where local sports fans are smarting over their baseball team, the Rangers, being promptly dispatched from the World Series, and where the beloved Dallas Cowboys are a dreadful embarrassment.
Three drivers are all in strong position for the championship in Homestead, after Texas and Phoenix. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin will throw caution to the wind and race all out to void Jimmie Johnson’s “drive for five,” his fifth consecutive championship. As far as any long shot possibilities, forget it. The results at Talladega did nothing to move any other rides close enough to where that can even be a fantasy.