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Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- "It's time for everyone to come to their senses" about restrictor plate racing


After a thriller like this Talladega 500, the fall championship chase race here is certain to be a sellout (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Rookie Brad Keselowski surprised even himself with Sunday's unexpected Talladega 500 victory.
   "Wow, pinch me!" the 25-year-old Rick Hendrick project said. "Am I awake?
   "How about this team!?
    "How about all them fans out there – man, thanks for coming.
    "This is the best show on earth."
   But this day will be remembered as much for that wild last lap wreck as for Keselowki's first Cup tour win.
   "I've got to apologize to Carl Edwards for wrecking him at the end," Keselowski said.
   "But the rule is you can't go below the yellow line, and he blocked, and I wasn't going below it.
    "I don't want to wreck a guy. But you're forced in that situation. There was nothing else I could do."
     For winning car owner James Finch, one of the sport's more outspoken and controversial figures, and always good for a wild story or two or three, as well as some of the tour's best parties,  "This is the greatest thing ever to happen to me.
    "I'd really like to dedicate this win to Neil Bonnet's family. Neil died in my car in 1994."
   The crash hung over everybody at the end, though there were apparently no serious injuries, either to drivers or to fans, though seven fans were treated for broken bones and scrapes.
   Ryan Newman appeared in good shape to win, until the Edwards-Keselowski charge.
  "Congratulations to Brad on his first win," Newman said.
   "It's a tough way to earn one that way, but he's standing in victory lane, and just a good, solid finish.
    "I saw the left rear tire (on Edwards' flying car) coming right towards my windshield.  So, yeah, it was bad. 
    "You're running 195….and I knew the glancing blow off the wall was going to be no piece of cake either. 
    "Just happy that the guys at Stewart Haas do a good job on my seats and everything.
    "When I saw Carl flying up in front of me, I thought he was actually going to spin down to the bottom of the track….But the back of the car caught air.  We've seen that two times this weekend, with Greg Biffle Saturday and now Carl.
    "So maybe we need to look at some things to keep the cars back down on the ground.    
    "There's no such thing as overreaction when it comes to safety….not just us but the fans as well. 
    "Whatever we can do to make it safer for everybody, that's what we need to do.
    "I'm sure NASCAR will spend some time looking at, replaying some videos and watching what the cars do and let their engineers figure out what we can do to try to help the situation.
    "This car punches an entirely different type of hole in the air, and the bumpers are a good bit different on it.
    "So maybe a little bit of engineering needs to go back into the size of the cowl flaps, the placement of the cowl flaps, and potentially additional flaps, to slow the cars down immediately once they get turned around or sideways."
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed with Newman: "We don't need to go up in the air, for sure. 
    "But if we slow them down to keep that from happening, we are going to be more in position with Carl's claim and complaint.
    "We slowed them down, and did all of these things with the plates and roof flaps and stuff like that, to keep cars on the ground, and keep them under a certain speed to keep cars from getting airborne. 
    "Now we are pack-racing so badly that it's just about all you can do to not be wrecked or get in a wreck.
   "It's unfortunate Carl's car reacted the way it did once it did get turned around, because that's just a scary situation…especially for everybody on the front straightaway."
   The action all afternoon was bruising, throughout the pack, with numerous crashes.
   "I think a lot of guys had cut tires because we were bouncing into each other," Earnhardt said. "Matt Kenseth had a cut tire because we were bump-drafting so hard it just pushed the quarterpanel down on his tire. 
     "And I know a couple other guys had that.
       "I wish we could get away from each other a little bit.  I wish it came down to handling a little bit.  I wish it came down to power a little bit.
   "Right now everybody can basically have the same power….and we are going so slow that there's no challenge in handling.
   "At Daytona the handle comes into play…and you see that, and it makes it fun. 
    "This racing here, it may be as exciting as hell to watch…but I've wrecked two or three times just trying to finish one of these COT races.
   "But for years we have had wrecks like this every time we come to Talladega…ever since the plate got here. And for years it was celebrated.  The media celebrated it, the network celebrated it, calling it 'the big one,' just trying to attract attention and trying to bring people's attention to the race.
    "So there's a responsibility with the media and the networks and the sanctioning body itself to come to their senses a little bit and think about the situation.
    "We have been saying this for years -- racing like this is not a whole lot of fun.  It's just something we have to do because we have to go out there and race."

Handling Isn't Racing

At Daytona or anywhere else handling gets in the way of racing, and the fact is nobody wants to lose ground to the leaders because of handling - the idea that it makes Daytona more fun is ludicrous.

Why does everyone ignore that at Talladega hardly anyone stubs a toe while drivers (and others) were dying or getting seriously injured at Michigan, Atlanta, Homestead, Charlotte, New Hampshire, and Texas over the last two decades - yet it is Talladega that gets ripped for safety?

Junior needs to come to his senses instead of lecturing anyone about coming to one's senses. It's the drivers' fault, not the media nor the rules.

They do need a smaller plate for the plate tracks from here on - the sport does not need the 205 MPH they were hitting at times on Sunday. 190 in the draft is enough.

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