It was a long, mad, epic saga of a race at Talladega Super Speedway yesterday. This was the first restrictor-plate race since the Daytona 500 in February. A huge crash on lap 43 eliminated a number of top drivers, but it was stormy weather that caused the biggest disruption. Unlike Daytona International Speedway, Talladega cannot facilitate night racing, so it was imperative that the track be dried in time to resume the race before sunset. Thankfully, the Air Titan track drying system proved to be an incredible piece of technology and saved the race day.
Despite that, it was still hours until the green flag waved. Coming into the final six laps, another crash took out eleven cars, as the sun had all but disappeared behind dark clouds. This race needed to end before something bad worse happened. Then with two laps to go and put this hot mess to bed, magic happened. Matt Kenseth who had dominated throughout found his lead position seriously challenged by Carl Edwards. Not far behind was Jimmie Johnson on the low side and Aric Almirola on the high; both trying to take a shot at the lead. Kenseth got a little push from David Ragan and it looked like he was going to retake his lead, but then there was the other David.
David Gilliland got behind his Front Row Motorsports team mate, David Ragan and then in the blink of an eye, they blew past everybody to the finish line – twice! The NASCAR on FOX commentators and folks in the studio with them went bananas. You can hear them all cheering for these unlikely heroes of the day. Carl Edwards must have buried his right foot in the Ford Fusion to secure third place, but the day truly belonged to an underfunded team. Nobody and I mean nobody, paid them any mind until it was too late.
With all the rhetoric, punditry and behind-the-scenes drama that surrounds NASCAR on a daily basis, we tend to forget about the “little” guys. Some team owners can drop a million bucks on a sports car, while others are praying that they can pay all the bills on time. They do everything within their power, financially, emotionally and spiritually to keep racing at this level; for no other reason than they love it so darned much. Well, you know what? That’s why we love it too. Well done, Front Row Motorsports! We hope you don’t wait too long before you find yourself in Victory Lane again…and again.