October 23, 2013
Wild Ride At Talladega
Talladega races are known for exciting laps. Multiple lead changes, 20 to 30 cars running side-by-side and bumper-to-bumper at speeds in excess of 200 mph. It is also known for the Big One, which happens almost every race.
The Big One, as it is called, is where multiple cars are involved in a wreck, sometimes 15 or more spin, crash into each other, and create a smoke filled environment, leaving debris and heavily damaged vehicles scattered on the pavement.
In Sunday’s race there was no big multiple car wreck, just a couple of cautions involving only a few cars. But, the wreck that happened on the last lap was a wild ride for driver Austin Dillon in car number 14, who was filling in for the injured Tony Stewart.
The race itself was exciting to watch. It was full of passing and lead changes as cars jockeyed for position, trying to reach the goal, get the lead and ultimately the checkered flag. Sometimes they raced three and four wide as they roared around the track.
With that many cars bunched together, going at the speeds they do, its no wonder the big one normally happens. All it takes is a little slip or mistake, and chaos enfolds. But, for this race that didn’t happen.
As in an earlier post I wrote about how Tony, who normally drives the number 14 car, had been injured in a sprint race earlier in the year and would miss the rest of the season. So, the duties of driving his car fell to Mark Martin and Austin Dillon for the remaining races.
Austin was the driver for this race and he managed to stay clear of any trouble on the track and was having an excellent race. He had been toward the front of the field for most of the race. In the final laps the drivers had settled down a bit, staying in single file.
As they came to the white flag for the final lap, Jamie McMurray was leading, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second, Austin Dillon was third, and rookie driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth. About half way through the lap, Earnhardt looked like he was going to make a move to pass McMurray, and Dillon moved down a little so he could follow Earnhardt.
Especially in the Talladega race, a car cannot normally pass another car unless the driver has help from behind. So when Earnhardt didn’t fully make a move, Dillon decided to get back in line. In the process, he became loose and spun with 30 plus cars behind. They bobbed and weaved and, fortunately, almost every car avoided a collision with Dillon’s spinning machine, which in turn, the big one was dodged. However, with cars dashing out of the way of Dillon, one car was unable to miss colliding with it. On impact, Dillon’s car went soaring into the air and settled back down onto the track on all four tires.
A video of the final laps can be seen here.
Jamie McMurray went on to win the race, with Earnhardt finishing second.
Image Credit: Gerard Leblond via video capture