If you didn’t watch today’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Super Speedway, you missed one heck of a show.
Any time that the NASCAR touring series stops at the 2.66 mile Alabama oval, anyone has a chance to become David for a day and take down the Goliath’s of our sport. Today, as Elliot Sadler slid through the grass and Joey Logano spun like a top down the tri oval, we all thought Brennan Poole had done just that and earned his first career NASCAR victory. However after the smoke cleared and dust settled, officials deemed Elliot Sadler the winner of the Sparks Energy 300.
But Brennan Poole crossed the line first? Well, safety in our sport has been a hot topic of conversation and this fits right in the middle of that discussion. In 2003, NASCAR changed its rules that drivers would no longer race back to the line when the caution flag was out. Rather, at the moment of caution, the field would be frozen immediately allowing drivers to slow their pace and safety workers to get to the accident scene much quicker. When Joey Logano turned head on into the safer barrier, the caution lights came on moments before Brennan Poole slipped through to the lead.
Now, I’m not one to say whether or not it was the right thing to do for NASCAR to throw the yellow just a few hundred feet short of the finish. But I can guarantee you one thing: with the yellow thrown at that moment in time and the checkered flag in sight, drivers were not slowing down until they crossed the line. Certainly NASCAR is in a tough spot. Especially after the safety speculations as of late, they have to do what protects the driver and their reputation. They have to show consistency regarding in my opinion the greatest safety improvement NASCAR has made rule wise in the past several decades.
I understand that Elliot Sadler wins the race because he was technically ahead at the time of caution. There is no ambiguity that when the caution came out, Elliot was leading. All I am saying is that the caution was perhaps thrown prematurely. When chaos has ensued and drivers are a second or two away from the line, I say they should race to the line. With that being said, if the accident had occurred on the backstretch then absolutely throw the yellow and let safety personnel do their jobs. I don’t blame NASCAR necessarily – above all the safety of the drivers has to be at the forefront. But there has to be a judgement call at some point between throwing the yellow and effectively slowing the drivers in order to improve safety versus throwing the yellow as drivers are practically coming across the start finish line.
Sure, it’s awesome to see Sadler win on his 41st birthday and end his winless streak. I’ve always been a Sadler fan. But, in my opinion there is an asterisk next to his chase birth today.
My heart goes out to Brennan Poole. He handled the emotional roller coaster of today’s festivities like a pro and his time is certainly coming if he continues to handle himself in that manner. He gained a lot of fans today and certainly is a winner in the hearts of many.