TALLADEGA, Ala. — Among the topics Carl Edwards addressed with the media were if he thinks plate racing is “insane,” the unpredictability of plate racing and Talladega not being an elimination race come next season.
Speaking to the media yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway, the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was asked, given the unpredictable and volatile nature of restrictor plate racing, if he as a driver ever stopped to think “I am insane to do this.”
“It’s a crazy style of racing and there are times at the end of these races where you think, ‘This is just – this is truly insanity,’” Edwards said. “All the cars are torn up, everybody is limping around, but I think NASCAR – aside from completely changing the race track and the style of racing – I believe NASCAR does the best job they can do keeping things as safe as they can. We’ve got the best technology that we can have to keep the walls soft and the cars safe and monitoring everyone and keeping us from bumping too much and all that, but it is – it’s a crazy style of racing. That’s all there is to it.”
He also expanded on the unpredictability, stating “if you look back a couple – I think it was a couple years ago – Dave (Rogers, crew chief) mentioned it and he doesn’t like to talk about it, but I guess he and Kyle (Busch) came here basically leading the points or really close to leading the points and got knocked out running 42nd and were out of the Chase, so that’s a pretty big swing in fortune. I think all of us are aware that can happen here and it’s not just that it can happen – I mean that can happen anywhere, it can happen at Charlotte, we saw a lot happen there – but it can happen and it’s not your fault so to speak. Outside circumstances – you’re just so close and you’re in a pack and I think that’s what makes this race interesting to watch is that truly anything can happen. I mean, I’ve been staring at the checkered flag thinking I was going to win and then been upside down in the fence. I mean, it’s – and that was just the two of us messing around. If you get the whole pack in there, it can get crazy.”
Edwards is not the only driver to note the “insanity” of racing at Talladega. Brad Keselowski, in his post-race media availability following his victory in the GEICO 500, talked about how racing is a “balance of daredevils and chess players” and that Talladega “has always been the more daredevil style of track.”
Restrictor plate racing, exclusive to Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, has always been a polarizing topic in NASCAR since its introduction nearly 30 years ago. Drivers tend to dislike or outright hate plate racing because of its unpredictability and violent nature. Fans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly love it.
The nature of plate racing has made Talladega’s position late in the schedule a hot button topic over whether it should have any impact on the championship that late in the going, especially in the elimination format era of the Chase.
While some drivers are in favor of NASCAR swapping Talladega’s place as the final race of the Round of 12 with Kansas Speedway next season, Edwards doesn’t think it’ll make that much of a difference.
“I think Talladega being in this round, I think it makes all of the races crazier just because you know this one’s slightly less predictable, so it puts a pressure on regardless of where it’s at,” he said. “I guess if it were the first race, there’s a chance you could come out and everything will go smoothly and then your next two races might be more normal, but heck I don’t know. I feel like truly Talladega gets a lot of attention, but as this – as being a real ‘wild card’ – but as people get better at this Chase and understand how important each lap is and each position is, the intensity has just been ramping up the last couple of years and it seems like it’s there for sure this year.”