Talladega wrecks cost teams millions

Talladega wrecks created a post-race junkyard
Talladega wrecks created a post-race junkyard

The delicate line between sport and entertainment was dangerously straddled [at Talladega] by 40 drivers roaring along in a pack of cars at 200 mph. When the dust settled, 35 cars had been involved in at least one accident and two cars went airborne. When Kevin Harvick's car lifted off the track in a last-lap crash, it finally put an end to the chaos…we celebrate on Monday that no one was injured, and better yet, no one died in the carnage that was a typical Talladega race.

But all that wrecking came at a price. The cost of damaged race cars on Sunday neared $10 million in losses across the grid, according to an informal survey Monday by The Associated Press of five top race teams. Within that series-wide estimate, some teams estimated they lost $500,000 per car – total loss situations – while others estimated $250,000 without including any engine damage.

It's important to put Sunday's demolition derby in at least a little bit of perspective. Yes, the destruction was unusually high. But the threat of rain played a huge role in the multiple accidents. Normally, the aggression in plate races doesn't come until about 30 laps remain and many drivers spend most of the race riding around in the hope they can stay out of trouble to make a late run for the win.

They couldn't wait Sunday because rain could have ended the race with no notice. It meant the pace was much faster from start to finish. Plate racing isn't going away anytime soon, though various measures could be taken to reduce the pack element – remove the restrictor-plates, slow the cars, knock down the banking at Daytona and Talladega – nothing should be eliminated from conversation as NASCAR tries to "fix" the issues plaguing the four events each year. Associated Press

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