When I worked in the backroom of a grocery store in high school, there was horsing around to be had. One of my former managers offered this sage advice: “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt”. I scoffed at his suggestion at the time—no one had ever gotten hurt stocking canned corn. However, the advice he gave has some very real-world applications.
When Eric McClure hit the wall during the first green-white-checkered finish, I gasped out loud. The last time I remember doing that was when Jeff Fuller crashed at Kentucky in 2006. McClure’s car appeared to hit the inside SAFER barrier full throttle. After a lengthy extraction process, McClure was transported by helicopter to a local hospital. NASCAR later reported McClure was conscious, alert, and talking to attendants en route to the hospital.
For all the safety advances NASCAR has made in the past decade, whether it is mandated usage of the HANS device, the COT, or improved headrests, it puzzles me as to why NASCAR is favor of a two-lap banzai run to the finish, especially at a track such as Talladega. A large wreck is almost guaranteed. At the speeds run at Talladega, this would seem like a far from ideal situation.
This is the same sanctioning body that throw caution flags for bottles of water and refuses to let cars race back to the caution flag, even the cautions for a one-car spin in which the car that drew the caution is already moving again. The inconsistency in safety decisions is something that needs to be discussed.
NASCAR has acquiesced to the fans’ wishes too often over the last ten years and its time for this concept to die. With McClure’s serious crash at the end of this race, the fun and games are over. NASCAR needs to end the G-W-C finishes.
Hornish, Patrick Clash
As the cars came to the checkered flag, Sam Hornish Jr. moved up the track due to a tire problem and put Danica Patrick in the wall. In an apparent fit of retaliation, Patrick rear-ended Hornish after the race and put him nose-first into the turn one wall. Patrick doubted this version of events, telling Hornish “Yeah right”. A close inspection of the replay does indeed show Hornish with a tire down.
After the race, Hornish said “Coming off four, the tire went flat. The 2 (Elliott Sadler) was pushing me which I appreciate, but at that time I didn’t need it. I was trying to get out from in front of him, but the car wouldn’t turn anymore. Then after the race was over, we got right-reared by the 7 car. I don’t know what she had in her head, but she decided to right-rear us, wreck the car after the race was over. That’s really frustrating.”
This is NASCAR officiating at its finest. Patrick has a long history of incidents with other drivers on the track and has never been reprimanded for any of them. If Kyle Busch was the one that turned Hornish, he would have been ejected from the track and slapped with a fine. Patrick intentionally wrecked Hornish and won’t be receiving as much as a wrist slap. NASCAR needs to take a good, hard look at this incident and see what they might be setting themselves up for down the road if this act goes without penalty. If NASCAR penalizes anyone else for a similar move, NASCAR will once again be accused of favoritism.
After the incident, Sprint Cup driver David Stremme tweeted “Maybe it’s just girls can have at it”. That might just be the case, as reportedly Patrick nor Hornish were called to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
Last week at Richmond, Morgan Shepherd, driver of the no. 89 Racing with Jesus Chevrolet extended his record as the oldest driver to lead a lap in the Nationwide series. Shepherd actually led a total of three laps. On leading the lap, Shepherd said “When the opportunity was there, we decided to stay out for the extra bonus point”. Unfortunately, Shepherd’s luck wasn’t as fortuitous at Talladega, as he was swept up in the first multi-car crash, ending up with a 35th place finish.
And looking forward…
The Nationwide Series heads to Darlington next week for the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200. Denny Hamlin has won three of the last six races at Darlington and will figure to be a prominent player in this years’ race as well. The other three drivers to score victories in the last six are Sprint Cup drivers as well: Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart each have one victory as well.
Mark can be found on Twitter @ SpdwyMediaModor.