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Bruce: Few unscathed, fewer clear fixes for Talladega turmoil

Talladega Superspeedway

RELATED: Talladega results | Gallery: Sunday at the track

 

Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

 

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Raise your hand if your favorite driver wasn't involved in at least one crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
 

Anyone?
 

Chances are, he or she was. The GEICO 500 was one of those races … let's see, how best to describe it?
 

Wild? Yes. Intense? Yes. Explosive? Yes. Insane and I don't know why we continue to race there? Well …
 

It is and they do, and as long as they do, drivers and fans will continue coming back.
 

Multicar crashes certainly aren't anything new at Talladega; the 2.66-mile track has been the site of such incidents almost from the very day the track hosted its first NASCAR-sanctioned race back in 1969.
 

As Sunday's race wore on, the number of cars involved in one melee or another continued to mount. Three cars, then three more, then seven, and they're probably still adding up all the ones involved in the latter stages of the event. What was it, 21 cars caught up in an incident on Lap 161? That's more than half the starting field.
 

The crews that were able to push their cars back to the garage after the race were the fortunate ones.
 

There were far too many that arrived there on the back end of a wrecker, then were cut, lifted, twisted and rolled onto the team haulers for transport back to the various race shops.

 

It probably wasn't worth the effort, judging by the looks of several.
 

"Body shops are gonna be plenty busy this week," one crewman said.
 

No one was seriously injured, and for that we should all be thankful. Ever-evolving safety measures did their jobs, but that probably wasn't going through the mind of Chris Buescher when his Front Row Racing Ford tumbled down the backstretch.
 

Or Matt Kenseth when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took flight, then flipped and slid on its top, the asphalt grinding sheet metal into nothingness.
 

Or Danica Patrick, whose Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet smashed into the inside wall with great force, buckling the SAFER barrier.
 

"Racing has always been that balance of daredevils and chess players," race winner Brad Keselowski said. "Some weekends we're chess players, some weekends we're daredevils. This has always been the more daredevil style of track, which probably offsets some of the tracks that we go to where we're the chess player.
 

"That's what makes the NASCAR season so much fun and so unique."
 

Those who win tend to see things in a positive light. But without watching replays of the incidents, the Team Penske driver admitted it would be unwise to comment on individual situations.
 

"I went flying last year at Daytona, and that's not fun," third-place finisher Austin Dillon recalled. "For guys that haven't done it, it's just not a fun thing to be a part of. I don't know how to fix it personally. I know NASCAR will put their efforts towards fixing it. … They've made the car safer. That's the reason why we're walking away from these crashes."
 

Chances are, there's no "fix" for such things. Driver after driver has noted that such incidents are expected, if not quite accepted.
 

"I hate it," defending series champion Kyle Busch said afterward. "I'd much rather sit at home."
 

Already a winner this season, Busch noted, "I don't need to be here."
 

Sour grapes? Hardly. Busch finished second.
 

And on a day when the garage was quickly filling with torn-up race car after torn-up race car, second didn't seem so bad.
 

Fans wandered through the garage, a few stopping to collect the occasional piece left behind.
 

Darkness was descending as teams wrapped up their auto-surgery. Rain was on the way.
 

But the big storm had already passed.

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