Hot Laps Talladega Edition

    NASCAR's ongoing quest to make its racing both competitive and safe continued this weekend in Talladega. And by all counts the latest initiatives were a success.

    Allowing drivers to bump draft through the corners, a source of great controversy in last November's visit to the 2.66-mile track, seem to pay immediate dividends. While there were a few stints of single file racing in Sunday's Aaron's 499, there was no where near the parade on display last fall which some saw as a driver protest to having bump drafting taken out of their hands.

    Of course with that additional opportunity for contact we saw the inevitable spins, bumps and crashes that are a part of Talladega's fabric. But thankfully nothing of the serious variety.

    What we did see was some great racing and a competitive day that perhaps owes the Sprint Cup car's new rear spoiler an assist. Although many teams tested the new blade during a Talladega test last month, there was still a great unkown until actual racing conditions were presented.

    Based on Sunday's race, the absence of the wing and implementation of the spoiler ramped up the competition level while providing the added benefit of increased safety. Cars stayed on the ground Sunday when spun sideways or backwards, something we haven't seen at Talladega in more than a year. At first blush it sure seemed like the wing not being bolted on the rear decklids of these cars was the reason.

    Mother Nature aside, the weekend at Talladega was a welcome return to the edge of your seat style of racing the track has been known for since it was born more than 40 years ago.

  • NASCAR definitely made the smart call by scrubbing all of Saturday's activities given the severe weather that hit the Talladega area. In fact most people probably wouldn't have argued if the plug were pulled on Friday night in anticipation of the dicey weather that was predicted. Thankfully there were no reports of any major damage or injuries after the Saturday weather issues that clobbered the area.

  • The phenomenon of watching two cars hook up and drive away from the field should make the next two plate races at Daytona and the fall Talladega return very interesting. It doesn't matter if drivers are teammates or share manufacturers - pairing up is certainly the way to go and drivers will no doubt continue to find partners no matter what the allegiance.

  • The driver, team and sponsor merry-go-round slowed down over the weekend with no definitive news on any changes coming from those who have been thrust into the earliest appearance of "Silly Season" on record. However Rick Hendrick did mention he expects to have something lined up for Kasey Kahne's 2011 season in the near future and that he has been contacted by a number of teams in the garage area apparently willing to work together. Nine Sprint Cup championships and four straight will do that for a team.

  • Attendance for Sunday's doubleheader was down from last year's April race but keep in mind Talladega removed some seats to lower its grandstand capacity to just over 130,000. An estimated crowd of 123,500 was on hand Sunday.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2010

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