Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rating the Amp Energy 500: 5 Stars *****

Well, did anybody enjoy that race? Yes, there were issues with parts of the race that will need to be worked out, but this is just another example of why restrictor plate racing is bar none the most exciting racing in the world. Talladega gets a 5 Star Rating.

An unexpected winner, two cars flipped on their roofs, and plenty of water cooler talk capped off a great season of restrictor plate racing. It was very refreshing to see new faces at the front of the field throughout the event. Everyone was complaining about the smaller restrictor plate, but that was the one change that probably helped the racing. Sometimes at these races there will be one car that is just better than everyone else. Tony Stewart had that car at Daytona in July. On Sunday, however, there was not a dominant car throughout the race. With 60 lead changes among 26 different drivers – yes 60 among 26 – there was always somebody new at the front. That was also the second most different leaders a Cup Series race has ever seen. It was nice to have a race where the Chase seemed not to matter.

Before we go any farther, huge congratulations should be extended to Jamie McMurray and the #26 team. They are the 14th different team to visit victory lane this season. Things have not gone the way anybody had hoped when McMurray signed on to drive the #26 car, and very rarely do guys win a race late in a year when they know they will be moving on to a new team the following season. McMurray has always been a good plate racer and hopefully he will find what he is looking for in 2010.

Alright, on to the controversial/bad things about Sunday’s race. The most obvious thing to criticize about Sunday’s race is the new rule about not bump drafting in the corner. People talk about this every time there is a restrictor plate race, and now NASCAR actually did something about it. Yet, other than creating a single file race for much of the first two-thirds of the race, the new rule did not prevent the big wrecks that everyone is scared about.

Over the years many things have been done to try and prevent “the big one” from happening. The restrictor plates get smaller and smaller, the yellow line was put in place, and now penalties will be handed out for bump drafting in the corner. None of these solutions have prevented big wrecks. This week’s race was one of the worst as far as the number of bad wrecks that occurred. Sure they happened really late in the race, but they still happened. Maybe NASCAR and everybody involved will just have to accept that this is what you get at Daytona and Talladega. They are great races to watch, and NASCAR has done a great job of making the cars and the walls safer when those wrecks happen.

I still wish NASCAR would take out the yellow line. That thing has created more controversy and caused about as many wrecks as it has prevented. I thought it was really cool to see cars six-wide through the tri-oval with cars stretching from the grass to the wall. Dale Jr.’s wreck in the Daytona 500 was partly because of that line. Otherwise, he may have been able to take his time before moving back up onto the track. Also, Regan Smith would have a win since he was the first to cross the finish line in this race a year ago.

Overall, this was a great weekend of racing. Talladega and Daytona are the two best tracks on the schedule and nothing NASCAR does will change that. If they are going to continue to complain about this type of racing, about the only thing they can do to fix it is to take the tracks off the schedule, and that will never happen.

So now there are three races to go. Personally, I kind of hope Jimmie Johnson is able to clinch the championship before Homestead. I have a feeling this is not what NASCAR was looking for when they implemented the Chase format in 2004. The final three races will probably be like the rest in the Chase, but at least this weekend was awesome.


  1. Very Good Post! I think a 5 star rating is very appropriate. I am very happy for Jamie McMurray. Good for him.

  2. You must REALLY love plate racing, JM. 5 stars? Even after....

    "creating a single file race for much of the first two-thirds of the race"

    Lead changes are always skewed way out of whack whenever there are several rounds of green flag pit stops.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the race. I have heard some other people also say they enjoyed it. My theory is one of their favorite drivers had to luck into a top-10 Sunday to make it an enjoyable race.:^]

  3. I didn't enjoy the race. It had moments of tension, but on the whole, it was frustrating for me to watch. Drivers not allowed to hook up (2 or 3 cars) and advance. Pit lane light too close to committment line. Cars checking up entering turns to avoid bump drafting caused a back up of cars that sent Newman flying. No, I was not too happy. But, congrats to Jammie Mac!

  4. Anonymous - I too was pleased to see McMurray get a win. He seems to be a good guy. Thanks!

    Gene - Well I do love plate racing. That was probably pretty obvious. Was it the best race ever? No. Was it better than most of the races this season, especially in the Chase? Well in my opinion it was.
    Also, I like your theory a lot! But that's not what happened here. lol Thanks!

    CR_Racing - I will agree that there are things where NASCAR has badly shot themselves in the foot. I was really hoping that new rule would not have changed the race, but it did.

    For anybody: Just out of curiosity I would like to know which races you think were more exciting than this one this season.

  5. I think these were more exciting;

    Watkins Glen
    Las Vegas

  6. Sorry late again Jmayer! So much snot in my head I couldnt make a coherent comment before! LOL

    I love my restrictor plate racing too but I was disappointed in this one. NASCAR has the boys in such a box there they cant race and are destined to wreck. CR said it well and I agree with the biggest problem with the racing is that the guys werent able to hook up 2-3 cars and draft to the front. He also nailed the reason for the wrecks. NASCAR needs to keep their paws off the racing action.

    More exciting this year - I'll add Infineon to that list too...

  7. CR-Racing - All were good races. Thanks!

    klvalus - I understand what you are saying. When done right, these are the best races ever. The confusing thing for me is that the FOX and SPEED guys seemed to view the 2 car hook-up as a bad thing, and now people are hating that it didn't happen. However, it seems like there is some sort of controversy coming out of each race at Dega.