Anytime the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega, you can bet there will be chaos.
When you have 40 cars running over 200 MPH, bumper-to-bumper, and door-to-door for 500 miles, it’s inevitable.
But on Sunday, this Cup Series driver had some strong words for NASCAR after a big Talladega crash.
With drivers battling for crucial playoff points as the first stage of the Geico 500 at Talladega came to a close, it was clear that a crash was coming sooner rather than later.
As the lead pack bunched up bumper-to-bumper and drivers fought to put themselves in the best position possible, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with Denny Hamlin’s left rear.
That contact got Hamlin out of sorts, and sent him into Joey Logano’s left rear which turned Logano’s car around, causing his 3,400-pound car to go airborne and flip onto its roof.
And as Logano was airborne and flipping, Bubba Wallace had nowhere to go and collided with Logano, but somehow avoided a major hit that could have certainly seen both drivers severely injured or worse.
Here what sent Joey Logano up and over at Talladega: pic.twitter.com/NP8zgz6dWB
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 25, 2021
Bubba Wallace's view of the Joey Logano flip is incredible. pic.twitter.com/P9RY4ho8OM
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 25, 2021
After the dust settled, Wallace hilariously came over his team’s radio to let everyone know he and his car were ok, saying, “I’m telling you, my underwear is worse than my car right now.”
Had it not been for the safety advancements NASCAR has made over the past 20 years, though, that crash could’ve ended a lot worse for everyone involved, specifically Joey Logano, whose roll bar was caved in to the point where it was right on top of his head.
But thankfully, Logano walked away without a scratch. And while he said he was just happy to be alive and unharmed, he had some strong words for NASCAR following the crash.
“I guess I don’t know exactly what to think,” Logano said. “It’s a product of this racing, and on one hand, I’m so proud to drive a Cup car that is safe, that I can go through a crash like that and get out and speak about it. On one hand, I’m mad about being in the crash. The other thing, I’m just happy I’m alive. On another hand, I think when we are going to stop? Because this is dangerous doing what we’re doing. I got a roll bar in my head. That is not OK.”
Logano then rightly pointed out that had someone like Wallace reacted even a few hundredths of a second later, he is one hit away from being in a similar position to the one Ryan Newman was in at last year’s Daytona 500.
“I’m one hit away from the same situation Ryan Newman just went through,” Logano said. “I just don’t feel like that’s acceptable. A lot of it is the big spoiler and these big runs, the pushing and all that. It’s no one’s fault. Denny is trying to go and [Stenhouse] is trying to go. It’s a product of this racing. We have to fix it though because [Newman] already got hurt, and we’re still doing it, so that’s not real smart.”
Logano with strong words about this package following his accident: https://t.co/BtbCqwnzMt
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) April 25, 2021
It’s not often that anyone who follows NASCAR closely can say this, but Joey Logano is right.
With NASCAR’s current rules package that has focused on creating high amounts of downforce with an absurdly large rear spoiler and big front splitter, while having less horsepower than the Cup Series has traditionally run, there is no avoiding these types of situations.
Especially when it comes to super speedway racing, drivers have to stay on the gas at all times in order to keep their momentum, or else that big spoiler acts as a parachute and without higher amounts of horsepower to help them recover, they’re slowed down to the point where they’re essentially out of the race.
Even when they begin to bunch up and the accordion effect comes into play as cars ram into one another, they still have to stay on the gas as much as possible, which ultimately causes these types of crashes.
And when a car like Logano’s goes airborne, he’s helpless and the drivers behind him can’t possibly react and slow down quickly enough – even with that big spoiler – and are forced to just pray they can make decisions in less than a second that will help them avoid making the crash even worse.
It’s incredibly important for the sport to continue racing at super speedways like Talladega and Daytona, but in wanting to make the racing safer at those tracks, NASCAR has inadvertently created new safety issues that must be addressed.
Furthermore, the style of racing that is required at super speedways under this package forces cars to stay in single file lines, and takes a lot of the fun of stock car racing out of the equation.
Sure, it can be entertaining for fans to see bumper-to-bumper racing and wild crashes, but the majority of these races is now just spent watching a single file line of cars go round and round without the possibility that a driver can make a move out of fear that they’ll get left out of the draft and fall all the way to the end of the field.
For whatever reason, NASCAR has shown no desire to go back to the low downforce, high horsepower package that made the sport must-see TV back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s.
But there’s no doubt whatsoever that it would create much better racing, and help avoid the type of situation Joey Logano found himself in on Sunday.
Maybe, just once, NASCAR will listen to the drivers and fans on this.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.