TALLADEGA, Ala. - Pack racing is a thrilling spectacle because the threat of a catastrophic wreck is present on every inch of the track. And it doesn't take much to turn pack racing into pack wrecking.
With only a half-dozen laps remaining, the front of the field was tighter than a white-knuckle fist. At that speed, with such little distance between cars, the tiniest mistakes magnify. And that's exactly what happened. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. appeared to bounce off the wall, sending J.J. Yeley right into Kurt Busch. Busch vaulted into the air and began flipping, and only stopped when he landed atop the hood of Ryan Newman.
That set off a cascade of wrecks; Terry Labonte and Danica Patrick sustained enough damage to go to the garage. And, naturally, it also set off the drivers involved.
“My mom doesn’t come to four races a year — Daytona and Talladega. Wonder why," said Kurt Busch, in a postrace interview that lasted all of about eight seconds. When told he still had a good race, he replied, "Good races don't matter if you leave on a hook. We'll end up only getting about seven points out of this." (He actually got 15, for what it's worth.)
Ryan Newman was even more pointed in his criticism. "They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls, but they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing," Newman said. "I wanted to make sure I get that point across, and y'all can figure out who 'they' is." (Spoiler: "They" is NASCAR.)
David Ragan would go on to win the race, but less than half the field would finish on the lead lap. And Talladega would once again live up to its reputation as the most dangerous, and controversial, track on the circuit.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-