Three-Wide Madness @ Talladega

Geico 500 @ Talladega (188 laps) restrictor plate race, 33-degree banking in the turns, 3-degrees in backstretch.  Sometimes ‘4-wide’ racing on the longest (2.66 mile) tri-oval in NASCAR. SAFER barriers inside & out. Talladega has 5 lanes and is a ‘wild card’ race, which means any good driver in a decent car can win. Weather: 80 degrees and overcast, with rain threatening

12:50:  “Drivers, start your engines!”    Note: it used to be “gentlemen,” but somebody changed all that.

Danica Patrick #10 starts 37th, out of 40 cars. Tony Stewart #14 starts middle-of-the-pack and immediately drops to 40th. He’s only starting this race to get his points towards the Sprint Cup Chase, which he has realistically has no chance for which to even qualify. His fragile back is discussed at length, as the SHR #14 team waits for an early caution flag to get Ty Dillon into the car.  Also mentioned, #22 Joey Logano took a hard crash in yesterday’s X-finity race.

Drafting with your teammate is crucial to winning at Talladega.  Dave Moody, Rusty Wallace, Mike Bagly, Kyle Ricky, Alex Hayden, Winston Kelly, Steve Post and Kim Coon are among those calling the action, waiting for the (American Ethanol) green flag to drop.

Lap 10: “3-wide six deep, from 9th on back!”
“Lots of blocking, early at Talladega!”

Lap 16: Matt Kenseth #20 is the race leader, 3 other (JGR) Toyota’s running top 10–  197 MPH laps, 6.7 MPG

Lap 20: 4 Toyota’s in the top 5: Kenseth, Denny Hamlin #11, Martin Truex Jr #78 & Kyle Busch #5

Lap 22: Danica Patrick 17th, Tony Stewart 38th

Lap 28: Danica Patrick in 12th, boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. #17 in 13th, and SHR teammate Kevin Harvick #4 in 14th

Lap 30: New race leader, Chase Elliot #24


Lap 36: First wave of pit stops

“Wedge adjustments right/left rear, two vs. four tires, Sunoco fuel…”
Patrick’s #10 car has the second pit box.  Bobby LaBonte #32 & Paul Menard #27 cut her off going in & spin her out on pit road.

Danica cut off by Menard & LaBonte

No one hurt, but Patrick’s car is nose-first into the wall.  Minor left-side damage, extended stay in the pits for her.

Extended pit stop

MRN announcer: Why do race car drivers lie so much?
Rusty Wallace: “They just do.”

Lap 41: Kyle Busch #5 race leader, has picked up a plastic bag on his bumper causing all kinds of commotion in the booth.  It isn’t slowing his car down much.
Trevor Bayne #6 & Tony Stewart get speeding penalties in pit road, sending them to the back of the field.  Stewart joins teammate Danica Patrick, now running 40th.

Lap 49: Dale Earnhardt, Jr #88 loses it and crashes!  First (STP) yellow flag of the race. Kasey Kahne #5, Matt Dibenedetto #83 also caught up. Dale Jr immediately interviewed on the track owns it as his mistake, and compares it to his Daytona crash a few months back.

When Dale Jr. had a dead battery a week ago, MRN/PRN announcers all repeated that things like this are ‘best to happen early’.  He finished 2nd that day.  MRN says nothing about this possibility for Danica Patrick.

Lap 52: Danica Patrick up to 37th, one lap down.

Lap 53 : Tony Stewart gets the ‘wave around’ to the lead lap. Ty Dillon is now driving the #14 car. They changed under yellow so they didn’t lose any real track position.  It’s now up to Dillon to work with his SHR teammates. It was 77 seconds on that driver swap.  Honestly, Tony Stewart shouldn’t have been in a race car today.

Lap 57: Once you’re a lap down on a big track like Talladega, you have to get to be first on your lap, and then hope for the ‘luck dog’ caution flag which gets you back on the lead lap.  Michael Annette #48 & Landon Cassill #38 with Patrick, one lap down about to go green.

Lap 58: Caution flag #2 “Recap when we return…” Aric Almirola #43 damaged & Casey Mears #13 out.  Danica Patrick led her lap when the caution comes out– lucky dog Danica back on the lead lap.

Lap 66: Ty Dillon up from 34th to 12th, teammate Danica Patrick 21st.

Lap 70: (MRN cuts to a commercial) “Dale, Jr here for Geico…”  Mute.  No Dale, you’re in the garage.

Lap 73: Patrick 16th, running with Stenhouse Jr & Kevin Harvick #4.   Brad Keslowski #2, Chase Elliot & Austin Dillon #3, running 1-2-3.

Lap 77: Three-wide for the fourth position!  Engines heat up to about 255 degrees today, up from old-school 180 degrees.

Lap 87: Thirty cars separated by just TWO seconds running at 195 MPH, 3-wide at Talladega!!

Lap 91: Danica Patrick up to 13th, Kurt Busch 12th, Stenhouse Jr 10th

Lap 96: Jimmie Johnson #48 loses it.  Chris Beuscher #34 clipped the the right rear and flips airborne. Carl Edwards #99 takes a shot. Third caution, no one knows if the rookie driver (Beuscher) is okay when MRN cuts to commercial…

Lap 97:  Back to the broadcast, still under caution. Chris Beuscher climbs out of the roof of his wrecked vehicle, and take the mandatory ambulance ride. He’s very fortunate.
Austin Dillon damaged.  It’s time to announce the fan’s vote for today’s race winner. Danica Patrick is now the race leader [!], MRN cuts to a commercial.

Lap 100: Patrick pits under caution, teammate Kevin Harvick new race leader. Patrick led for 3 laps, all under caution.

Lap 109: Carl Edwards apparently cuts a tire and slams into the wall, Dale Jr (back into the race) is now wrecked!  Patrick now 29th, with 32 cars now on the lead lap.

Lap 128: Patrick 12th, 5th caution.

Lap 153: 6th Caution, Patrick running 27th.

Lap 159: Kurt Busch #41 gets into #48 Jimmie Johnson’s left rear bumper on the straight-away, turning him sideways into the wall.   “More than half the field eaten alive in that multi-car crash.  We’ve been waiting all day for that one!”  Seventh caution; fuel & four tires for everyone left in the race. Danica Patrick now 11th, with teammate Ty Dillon 12th.  Jimmie Johnson, Brian Scott #44, Kyle Larson #42, Ricky Stenhouse, etc…(17 cars total) out in that wreck.  Running ‘4-wide’ at Talladega.

Lap: 166:  8th caution flag for ‘debris on the track’ with Danica Patrick now running 9th. MRN says nary a word about it, lap after lap.

Lap 180:  Michael McDowell #95 ‘bump drafts’ Danica Patrick (running top 10), wrecking her in flames.  Matt Kenseth #20 flips over.  Patrick is first out of her car, walking over to see if Kenseth needs help.  Kenseth hand signals he’s okay. The track is then cleared.  Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola are also out. The ‘big one’ part 2.   NASCAR is ecstatic.  MRN cuts to a commercial…Save big money at Menards!

Lap 184: Still under caution, Matt Kenseth interviewed by MRN. He didn’t see it coming.  Back to green.  Danica Patrick describes hitting hard into an energy-absorbing wall that buckles upon impact. “I would say that’s probably the most scared, trying to hop out of a car with the fire on the inside. I haven’t had fire on the inside before. I have a pretty decent bruise on my arm and my foot, and my head feels like I hit a wall at 200. My chest hurts when I breathe.”

“We all raced to the halfway, then we all raced to the rain that was coming, then we all raced to the end,” she said. “It was like the whole race, you spent it racing like it was the end. There was no moments to relax at all. I’m sure that kind of expanded people’s comfort zones at the end of the race because we were already so used to running close. Some people took it over the edge.”

Lap 188: Checkered flag to Brad Keselowski, caution flag out as cars cross the finish line.  Danica Patrick DNF, placing 24th.  Her haters continue to maintain she sucks.  What really sucked was this race, which was a dangerous joke for all its participants.

Top 12 @ Talladega


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