NASCAR’s snoozer at Talladega on Sunday featured a two-decade low number of lead changes and one of the most boring finishes in recent years. Joey Logano cruised to an easy win as his corporate Ford teammates flanked behind him like the mighty ducks in a flying v. Somehow the F1 race in Baku was vastly more exciting than a NASCAR plate race.
Sunday’s race featured the lowest number of lead changes since 1998. For two decades Talladega has managed to be the place where lead changes happened. Where unpredictable was the only thing that was predictable. On Sunday the most predictable thing was guessing the finishing order with 5 laps to go better than Fox’s cringe worth supercomputer “Bernie”. Give that segment the digger demise immediately.
NASCAR’s new plate package has ruined plate racing. Ford has a clear advantage both under the hood and strategically. They’ve now won the last 6 Talladega races and look like the favorites to win at Daytona in July and the fall Talladega race. NASCAR has options to make the race better and encourage passing up front. The leader has too much power, it’s nearly impossible to take the lead without a run from the heavens propelling you past.
A few things NASCAR could easily do to the package are simple. Add the wicker back to the roof of the cars. That would create a bigger hole in the air allowing cars to suck up a lot easier. A taller spoiler would help in the same way. Or get rid of the no ride height rule that was debuted in Daytona. Teams are setting the rear end of the cars on the ground while that makes them insanely fast they are really hard to drive. There is one other thing NASCAR could do.
BRING BACK TANDEM RACING
“That’s too gimmicky, that’s not real racing,” say all the haters. To that I say, nothing about plate racing is “real racing” it’s all about luck and if you survive then understanding the air is the biggest skill you need. Let’s be honest here, Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, and Ward Burton all have Dayton 500 wins.
Tandem racing however while also not about skill at least provides for an entertaining race. From 2009 to 2011 tandem racing dominated the talking points when NASCAR rolled into plate tracks. Who was a better pusher than a leader? Who was going to work with who? Drivers had 15 other drivers communications in the car in order to hook up and hopefully get a run. There was still strategy involved there was still blocking and most importantly there were a literal shit ton of lead changes.
In 2011 the spring race at Talladega featured 88 lead changes among 25 different drivers. The fall race featured 72 lead changes among 26 different drivers. When pack racing returned in 2012 the lead changes for the two Talladega races were 34 and 54.
For comparison’s sake the spring Talladega race this year resulted in only 25 lead changes among 16 drivers. Many of those coming during green flag pit stops. Speaking of green flag pit stops part of the reason so many fans are likely turned off by Sunday’s race is a result of the stages. Teams have started pitting as soon as they’re in their pit window, when they do that it dishevels the pack and follow the leader racing ensues.
Tandem racing would still get strung out like what we see now with green flag pit stops. However, cars will be able to tandem up and get huge runs on the cars in front. It’s wildly unpredictable and massively entertaining. It also gave us a 4-wide finish with the top 8 cars. Something that wasn’t even possible on Sunday with the current package.
NASCAR likely won’t make any changes for the July Daytona race or the Talladega fall race. In 2019 however, tandem racing needs to return. “But the chevy nose won’t line up to push, it’s not flat.” Keep your reasonable thoughts to yourselves, haters. Let us all have a dream we can tell future generations about someday. David Hogg and that Gonzalez girl can crusade against guns, we need tandem racing more.
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