NASCAR’s 2019 aero package produced one of the most entertaining races at Talladega since the tandem era circa 2011. When you give drivers a little more throttle response and combine that with a massive spoiler and wicker you have a recipe for a wildly entertaining race.
That’s what we saw on Sunday, leaders were not impossible to pass. Runs were there to be had, bump drafting actually paid off for once and going from the front to the back in the pack was possible for the first time in over a decade.
Having said all of that, the numbers don’t indicate it was a spectacular race. However, for the first time this season that doesn’t matter.
Just taking a quick look at the numbers Sunday’s race was pretty standard in terms of the number of leaders we had. Sunday’s 15 is the average for the last 5 years which is a respectable number. The number of lead changes Sunday was the second highest out of the last 6 spring races at Talladega. That’s exactly what NASCAR wanted. 14 more lead changes than last year is what the sport needed. Talladega’s two races last season were two of the worst you’ll ever see at the 2.66-mile circuit.
The most surprising number has to be the lack of green flag passes. Sunday’s race featured 10,650 and while that’s a ton of passes at Talladega that’s pretty bleak. It was the second lowest number of green flag passes in the last 6 years. However that number actually doesn’t matter this week. Why? Because majority of fans left Sunday’s race pleased with what they saw. Fans wanted drivers to be able to make moves in the pack, done. They wanted the leader to be passable, done. They wanted a diverse battle up front, done. While the numbers are lacking in the passing department the product on track was actually really good.
Sunday’s numbers were low for a couple of reasons. A number of drivers hung out at the back of the pack most day. Brendan Gaughan finished 10th and only had 199 green flag passes, the lowest in the Top 15. On the flip side, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch both had to go back to front multiple times and had 452 and 457 green flag passes. For the most part, though a number of drivers did a good job of hanging in the Top 15 which cut down on their number of passes. The fuel mileage run at the end of Stage 1 resulted in a bunch of single file laps. Combine that with green flag stops over essentially 2-3 laps and you cut down on the number of guys pitting separately.
NASCAR has a winner with this package. A few tweaks by the time the series gets to Daytona and we could see and even better race. Potentially getting rid of the spoiler wicker and adding a roof wicker circa 2001 could be huge for passing. If they don’t change anything you likely won’t hear any complaints from the NASCAR faithful.
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