TALLADEGA, Ala. Jeff Gordon has had just about enough of restrictor-plate racing.
I remember when coming to Talladega was fun, Gordon said Sunday after finishing second behind Matt Kenseth in the Good Sam 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. But I havent experienced that in a long, long time. I dont like coming here, but its racing that I have to do.
Talladega and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway are NASCARs biggest and fastest tracks so fast that cars engines have restrictor plates to limit speeds.
Thats what caused Sundays final-lap big wreck that took out then-leader Tony Stewart and 24 other cars. And its what had Gordon who luckily avoided the wreck so frustrated.
Its part of racing at Talladega, said Gordon, who moved up to sixth place in the standings but trails leader Brad Keselowski by 42 points. You have to accept it and you know youre going to go through it if not during the race, then at the end of the race, for sure.
This is literally bumper cars at almost 200 mph. I dont know anybody who likes that.
Actually, Gordon thinks the fans probably do, although there were large sections of empty grandstands at Talladega. There was an estimated crowd of 88,000 at a track that can hold 108,000.
From an entertainment standpoint, they should be lined up out to the highway, Gordon said. I dont get that at all. If Im a race fan, I want to see two-to-three wide racing all day long, passing back and forth, shoving. Id want to be see the big one. Everybody being so aggressive, defying danger.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was caught up in the wreck and finished 20th, disagreed.
Its blood-thirsty. If that is what people want, said Earnhardt. Its ridiculous.
Gordon and Earnhardt were joined in their lack of enthusiasm for restrictor-plate racing by Jack Roush, team owner of Kenseths car.
Im real conflicted about restrictor-plate racing, said Roush. These are supposed to be our marquee races at Talladega and Daytona. But its now more about having to keep the drivers out of harms way more than on the short or intermediate tracks. Im figuring that my cars are write-offs when we come to restrictor-plate races.
Said Earnhardt: If this is how we raced every week, Id find another job. I dont even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year. But I aint got much choice.